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An article from Investopedia about something that is more important than most home owners realize. Written by AMY FONTINELLE
If you think hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and floods won’t happen to you or that you don’t need to insure against these disasters, you’re among the nearly half of U.S. homeowners and renters who lack the insurance coverage to deal with potential losses, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
In a recent NAIC national survey, about 48 percent of homeowners and renters said they did not have an inventory of their possessions. Of those who reported having a checklist, 32 percent had not taken any pictures and 58 percent had no receipts validating the cost of their possessions. In addition, 44 percent of respondents acknowledged that they had not stored their inventory in a separate location.
Here are some tips from the NAIC to help you prepare for disasters:
- Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. This should include taking photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.
- To enable filing claims more quickly, keep sales receipts and canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.
- As you acquire more valuables such as jewelry or antiques, consider purchasing an additional floater or rider to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.
- Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use such as holiday decorations, sports equipment and tools.
- Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe location such as a bank safe deposit box.
- Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a website for easy retrieval.
- Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.
- Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.
- Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home and possessions after depreciation, while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation. Speak with your insurance provider to determine whether purchasing replacement coverage is worth the cost.
- Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.
- Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy.
For more information, visit www.InsureUonline.org
SPRING CLEANING – DONATIONS
Spring cleaning is right around the corner, and for many homeowners that could mean out with the “old” and in with the “new”—but what to do with the “old” when it’s not quite ready for the landfill? Donating used items is a great option as long as you do a little homework to find out which local organizations and donation centers are most appropriate for the items you’d like to give away. Use the following tips as a guideline for determining what goes where and how to get it there.
- Many items are eligible for donation. You might be surprised to learn exactly what items you can donate. In addition to clothing and furniture, cars, cell phones and other electronics, fitness equipment, home appliances—even art supplies and old towels—are widely accepted by specialized organizations. If you’re looking to donate a unique item, or several of the same items in bulk, do some further research about local organizations and donation centers in need of specific things.
- Consider what shape your items are in to determine where you donate. If you’re planning to donate a broken refrigerator, make sure the organization is aware the item is in need of repair. Some donation centers accept broken items for parts; however, most organizations and donation centers prefer to accept gently used items in working condition. Be sure to communicate the item’s condition prior to arranging a donation.
- After choosing where to donate, decide how you’ll get the items to the organization. Oftentimes large organizations and donation centers are able to arrange a day and time to pick up your unwanted items directly from your home or business. Smaller organizations in need might instead have certain days and times available for you to arrange a drop off at a specified location.
- Make sure to get a donation receipt for tax purposes. Before donating, make a detailed list of the items you’ll be giving away along with the estimated values. Keep in mind that, since the items are used, price points might be lower than expected. When your items are picked up or dropped off, request a receipt from the organization or donation center to keep track of what to count as a tax deduction. Speaking with a tax professional for advice also is a good idea.