Protecting Your Property

Hurricane Katrina caused hundreds of millions of dollars of personal property damage throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In New Orleans, the water surge placed some homes 12 feet under water. Unfortunately, it can take a natural disaster to make you stop and think about how you should prepare to protect yourself in case you find your property squarely in the crosshairs of the next natural disaster.

Your first level of defense is your standard homeowner’s policy. Review your coverage with property management company in Albuquerque, preferably at your home, to determine if you have adequate coverage for your personal effects. You are likely to find out that you are significantly underinsured. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute says that two-thirds of all homes are underinsured by an average of 27%. Your solution may be as simple as raising your basic coverage but if you have antiques, expensive artwork or jewelry, specialized coverage may be needed. Yet, the question is “do you need a property management company?”

Regardless of the amount of insurance you carry, you must have an accurate inventory of all of your personal property. In a disaster such as fire, flood or theft, this inventory list can help you recover thousands more from your insurance company than would otherwise be possible. There are two ways to do this. The easiest way is to videotape all of your personal property. Videotaping is easy and fast. Simply go from room to room and videotape everything. Be sure to open drawers and closets and make as many comments as possible about any items that are unique such as antiques (costs, style, how old, etc.). The second, and perhaps best, inventory method is to use a digital camera to photograph your personal property including invoices, appraisals and other proof of valuation. Using a digital camera may be better than videotaping since you can easily print out your inventory for review and sharing with your property and casualty agent, financial advisor or family members. Whether you videotape or photograph your belongings, be sure to make at least one copy and store away from your home. Just as important as this exercise is, it is equally important to update your inventory periodically, particularly if you acquire additional personal property.

Be sure to share your inventory with your property and casualty agent. In particular, you want to determine if specialized coverage is needed. In some cases, you will be able to raise your base coverage. Sometimes, you will need to add rider coverage. This may come in one of two forms. Either you can insure your antiques, art and collectibles under separate ‘blanket’ coverage or the items will need to be insured on a piece by piece basis, which is typically more expensive. Regardless, what’s important is the accurate inventory. If you have a major loss such as a fire, having a detailed inventory is the only way you will be able to recall all of your personal property and to justify the value of that property. In this case, an ounce of prevention may be worth thousands of dollars. For more information about standards of proper documentation, go to www.object-id.com.