Protect Your Possessions

Protect Your Possessions

Protect Your Possessions From Fire, Flood, Burglars and Mayhem

In 2014, the FBI estimated there were 8.27 million property crimes committed in the United States, with victims suffering losses calculated at approximately $14.3 billion. Billions more have been lost through damage caused by natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.

Here are a few statistics Allstate Insurance put together that will shock you:

  1. While 90 percent of American homeowners are concerned about losing their belongings, most have not had them appraised in years.
  2. Only 10 percent have documented their possessions.
  3. Only 40 percent of Millennials know the details of their current coverage.

What if your possessions were stolen or your property damaged by fire, flood or tornado? Most insurance policies typically cover personal property (up to the limits stated in the policy), but to file a claim you’ll need to know what’s missing.

Would you be able to list the specific items that were stolen or damaged and how much those things are worth? You’ll need to show proof of ownership to the insurance company when you file a claim.

The best way to provide that evidence is through an inventory of your belongings — which you should update when you purchase or acquire new items, or when you get rid of something.

It’s amazing how many people don’t even think about doing that. In 2014, Allstate conducted a study of homeowners. 41 percent said they hadn’t done a recent valuation of the worth of their possessions, and many had not documented anything at all.

Taking a Home Inventory

The Insurance Information Institute has a thorough article on their website, “How to Create a Home Inventory.”

Briefly, they recommend making a complete list of your possessions, attaching receipts, appraisals, etc. The last time I did an inventory, which was probably about 10 years ago, it was a very daunting undertaking.

I broke my home down by rooms. I started with the central section of the house where the majority of my good paintings, sculptures, etc. are. I made a complete list of everything, using a different sheet of paper for each item, found what receipts I had, took a picture of the item and attached it to the description and receipt.

I discovered I hadn’t had an appraisal done for a lot of new pieces, so I had that done and added it to each piece. For electronic items, I added the serial number. I then stored my list in a safe deposit box at the bank. It’s important to keep the list outside of your home in case your home is completely destroyed.

My next inventory, which needs to be done soon, is going to be digital.

Most insurance companies want your information updated every few years or when you add an important item. That should also trigger you to ask your insurance agent if you have enough insurance to cover a loss, based on the appraised value of your possessions.

Now that you know what’s in your home, and its value, you can rest at least a little easier if a burglar decides to pay you a visit!

Protecting Your Home Against Burglars

Believe it or not, most professional thieves laugh at our attempts to keep our homes from being robbed; things like leaving lights and TVs on, or even having a big, assertive dog.

Here are tips that self-proclaimed burglars have passed on to protect your home:

  • Make it look like your house is occupied, but don’t be ridiculous about it. In other words, don’t keep the same lights on all the time and don’t blast the TV in the middle of the night. Rotate your lights on a timer, and if your TV has a timer, set the one in your living room to go on around 7 p.m. and off around midnight.
  • Have good deadbolts put on all the doors. Use them not only when you’re not home, but at night when you are home.
  • Use surveillance. Put real cameras on both the interior and exterior of your home.
  • Make sure your grass is cut. This indicates you have been home recently, versus a home with long, uncared for grass.
  • Don’t leave garbage cans empty for an extended period. Ask a neighbor to put some of their garbage in your can.
  • Burglars do not like dogs, big or small, and they tend to avoid houses with them. If you don’t have a dog, you can make it look like you have one by putting a dog bowl and chain by the back door. A sign saying “beware of dog” isn’t enough to deter thieves.
  • And speaking of dogs, don’t forget to close your doggy door before you leave. Many burglars have crawled in through them.
  • Burglars like to work in the dark, so make sure your home is bathed in light at night. Outdoor lighting on a timer is great. Motion sensor lighting is okay, but burglars can easily find out how to avoid those spots.
  • Figure out a good place to hide your valuables. The best is a safe. Also, hide your things outside of your bedroom — the attic, basement or kids’ rooms are generally good hiding places.

Lastly, please be careful — don’t try to be a hero. If you think someone is in your home or has been in your home, go to a neighbor’s house and call the police. Remember, things can be replaced, you cannot.