SCC urges knowing your stuff when it comes to homeowners insurance
When it comes to homeowners insurance, consumers generally consider the value of their home, but many fail to consider all of their valuable possessions inside. Not only can it make the claims process easier, cataloging your household possessions also can help you choose insurance coverage that will fully protect and replace your valuables in the event that they are lost, stolen, or damaged.
The State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians that one of the best ways to ensure that your possessions are fully protected is to document them with a home inventory. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, a home inventory enables you to determine exactly what you own and what it is worth before you need to make an insurance claim. An insurance company may request any information it feels is necessary to confirm ownership and value of the items claimed.
Creating a home inventory is easier than ever thanks to a free smartphone app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The app – myHOME Scr.APP.book – lets users photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes, and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information room by room and creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing. Download the app from iTunes or Google Play. Additional information about preparing a home inventory and a simple checklist that can be printed and completed by hand are available on the Bureau of Insurance website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi or the NAIC website at www.naic.org. When preparing a home inventory, do not forget to include belongings in closets, attics, basements, porches, garages, and sheds.
“Plan ahead for the unthinkable. Protect yourself financially by preparing a complete inventory of your personal belongings before a loss occurs or a disaster strikes,” said SCC Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham. “This can help determine the amount of insurance coverage you need and, done properly, will facilitate the claim settlement process in the event of a loss. Keep this inventory and your insurance policy in a safe place away from your home, such as in a safe deposit box or at work.”
Keeping a home inventory also can help consumers stay on top of their changing insurance needs. Consumers are often surprised by what is not covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.
Settlements on many homeowners insurance policies are based on the actual cash value of the property. This means that you will receive replacement cost minus depreciation for age and condition. As a result, you may not be able to replace the property with your claim payment. However, consumers can purchase coverage that will provide replacement cost for their possessions and will provide a higher limit of coverage for such property.
When determining your coverage needs, the Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginians to consider all of the items in their home that warrant additional insurance protection. This may include luxury items such as jewelry, electronics, and art or items that support personal passions such as antiques or custom guitars. These items may have a significant impact on your insurance needs. You can list these items separately on your homeowners insurance policy and assign a value to them. This means that they are no longer included in the limit that applies to other personal property. This approach usually makes it easier to obtain a satisfactory claim settlement should loss or damage occur.
The Bureau of Insurance offers free consumer guides for homeowners, renters, and businesses. These guides are available on its website atwww.scc.virginia.gov/boi. The Bureau also has specially trained staff who can assist consumers with their general questions or concerns about homeowners insurance. For more detailed information regarding your insurance needs, you should contact your agent or your insurance company.
For more information, contact the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at (804) 371-9185. Consumers who are hearing or speech impaired may call through the SCC’s Telecommunications Device for the Deaf and hard of hearing (TDD) at (804) 371-9206.
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