Prepare now for Hurricane Matthew insurance claims

Home inventory to prepare for Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew. Courtesy NOAA (http://www.nnvl.noaa.gov/)

In between rushing to the store to stock up on batteries, milk, bottled water, and non-perishable food to prepare for Hurricane Matthew, take five minutes to make sure you’re protected if there’s damage to your home. I’m not talking about putting up hurricane shutters or bringing your furniture inside. The one thing you need to do to prepare for the Hurricane involves only your cell phone. This five-minute step will help you get the most out of an insurance claim if the storm damages your home.

Home inventory

FRONT ROOMGrab your cell phone and take photos of every room in your home. Take closeup shots of valuable items. This helps make the insurance claim process smoother. There will be no doubt as to the contents of your home.

If you have time, write down and take a photo of the model number for expensive items like your television or computer. That way you can prove to the insurance company the true value of your item as items like TVs can vary dramatically depending on the model.

It’s also a good idea to take photos of your roof. From the ground will help. If you can get a ladder and get up on the roof, even better. That way you have proof of the condition pre-hurricane. With a storm of this magnitude, wind damage is a huge issue along with the obvious flooding concerns.

Backup photos and video

Along with photos, a video can be a helpful tool too.

Make sure the photos are saved to the cloud or another safe place before the storm hits.

You can even use free software from the Insurance Information Institute (III) to make sure you record all the information you need about the items in your home. It’s called, “Know Your Stuff.”  The software prompts you for the make, model, and place of purchase and allows you to include receipts, photos, and appraisals. You should also add the serial numbers.

The information is stored in the III secure database.  Then you can access the information when you need it.

This software is a good tool because it means your information is located in an independent location in case of fire, burglary, or flood. You don’t have to worry about the information being stolen, burned, or ruined.

Preparing for a hurricane is no fun and the to do list is often long. While this may not seem like a priority, it should be. You want to make sure you have the proof you need should the storm severely damage your home. It ultimately will come down to how good your insurance coverage is, but it helps to have a detailed list of items in your home because the insurance company will ask if you file a claim.

Remember, most policies will only cover wind damage or minor water damage. You need to have flood insurance for most water claims. There’s a 30 day wait on flood insurance so it’s too late to purchase this coverage.

Big storms like this grab our attentions. It’s a good time to review your insurance policy, and make sure you have the right coverage to fully protect your investments. It’s likely too late to make changes for this storm, as the insurance companies will put a moratorium on changes at some point soon, but a change now could better protect you next time.

These steps will protect you if something happens during this storm or at another unexpected time.

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