The first of the year is a good time to update your personal property insurance. This is the type of protection that insures the things you own against certain types of covered losses, like theft and fire damage. You probably added several expensive items to your household since the last time you inventoried your home. Perhaps many of those items were purchased or received recently during the holiday season. Don’t risk losing them to a fire, burglary, or other devastating event. Make January the month you review your home inventory, update your records, and make important changes to your personal property coverage if needed.
Where to Find Personal Property Coverage
Personal property coverage is not generally purchased alone but rather included as a part of your homeowners, renters, or condo insurance policy. Under a standard homeowner’s policy, it is found under Section C and usually has default limits equal to about 50 percent of the total structural coverage limits found in Section A. With condo-owners and renter’s insurance, you may instead choose your own personal belongings coverage limits. So how do you know how much to choose?
A home inventory gives you an itemized list of your belongings ready to reference should you need to file a claim. It also tells you how much coverage you would need in the event of a loss. We recommend updating your home inventory frequently – especially when you add new or expensive items to your home. Just be sure to store it in a safe space where it could still be accessed despite damage to your home. The Insurance Information Institute recommends the use of an app that can store home inventory safely in the cloud.
If you’ve never taken inventory of your home, start with one room, and then gradually move through the rest of your home, separating items into categories. Inexpensive items, such as apparel, may be more easily declared as six pairs of jeans and 15 shirts, whereas more expensive items like electronics should be documented with a serial number, picture, and a purchase receipt if you have it.
Once you inventory your home, you can add up the value of your belongings to determine how much coverage you really need. Keep in mind that there or typically several smaller personal property coverage limits to review in addition to the broader general limit. If the value of your jewelry, furs, firearms, or other expensive items exceeds the special coverage limits of your policy, you may need to speak with an independent agent at our office about scheduling additional protection in your policy.
Filing a Claim
If you need to file a claim for theft of personal property, fire damage, or some other covered event, we can help walk you through the process. Usually, personal property claims are subject to your deductible. This amount is subtracted from the amount the insurance company values your loss – a determination that is based on either actual cash value (ACV) or replacement value. Standard coverage typically covers the ACV, which accounts for depreciation of your items. However, you can add a replacement value endorsement to your policy to assure you are compensated for the full cost of replacing your items with new ones.
To find out more about how you can upgrade your personal property coverage for 2018, contact our office today.