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Protecting against property loss (Released 3/10/97)

by Renu Sehgal, Office of University Communications.

BETHEL, Conn. -- If tornadoes such as the ones that ripped through Arkansas recently were to come through Connecticut and destroy property here, could you put together an insurance claim? Do you know where your homeowner's insurance policy is and could you prove what you own and its value?

"The task of putting lives together again after a natural or manmade disaster can be awesome when families try to repair and replace their homes and personal possessions," said Lynne Grant, a University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System consumer educator located in the Bethel extension center. "Careful planning and recordkeeping could save consumers a lot of frustration when it comes to insurance claims."

A lack of records can hinder recovery and end up shortchanging consumers in lost compensation. Grant said it is important to plan ahead. She offers these tips:

  • Compile a household inventory book, itemizing property, room by room. Attach receipts, bills of sale or appraisals.
  • Photograph items in your house, listing each item's value on the back before putting it in your inventory book.
  • Use a video camera to document your possessions throughout your home, describing the item, date of purchase and cost. Remember to video outside your house also, documenting landscaping and outdoor furniture.
  • Put your inventory book in a safe deposit box with a copy of your homeowner's policy.
  • Review your homeowner's policy annually to make sure you are adequately protected against loss. Ask about replacement value options; the extra cost may pay for itself in the event of a major loss.

"Documenting what you own may seem like a daunting task, but if you are unfortunate enough to need the information you will be glad you took the time to do it," Grant said.

The Cooperative Extension System mission is to enable people to improve their lives and communities through education and service. The system offers a publication, Record of Important Household Papers, that is a comprehensive tool for recording important financial information, property inventories and professional advisors for $1.35. To receive the publication, please write to Cooperative Extension System, Department NR, 67 Stony Hill Road, Bethel CT 06810.