RICHMOND — The recent deadly tornadoes that killed
dozens of people and left huge swaths of destruction across much of the Midwest
and South serve as grim reminders of the need to plan ahead for the unthinkable.
This includes cataloging your household possessions.
The State Corporation Commission's Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians that one
of the best ways to ensure that your possessions are fully protected is to document
them with a home inventory. Go room by room and include serial numbers, photographs,
receipts, and videotapes. Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, a home inventory
enables you to determine exactly what you own and what it is worth before you need
to make an insurance claim. It will also help you choose insurance coverage that
will fully protect and replace your valuables in the event that they are lost, stolen,
A free iPhone® application – myHOME Scr.APP.book – from the National Association
of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), makes creating a home inventory easier than ever.
The app lets users photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes, and serial
numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. It organizes information
room by room and creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing. To download myHOME Scr.APP.book
app for iPhone® users, visit the iTunes® App Store or do a search for 'NAIC' in
the app store from your iPhone®. Additional information about the app is available
on the NAIC website at www.insureuonline.org. The website also offers a simple home
inventory checklist that can be printed and completed by hand.
Consumers are often surprised by what is not covered under standard homeowners insurance
policies. According to the NAIC, home contents are generally reimbursed only up
to 50 percent of the home's insured value, i.e. $50,000 to replace the contents
of a home insured for $100,000. Settlements on such policies are typically based
on the actual cash value of the property. This means that you will receive replacement
cost minus depreciation for age and condition. As a result, you may not be able
to replace the property with your claim payment. However, consumers can purchase
coverage that will provide replacement cost for their possessions and will provide
a higher limit of coverage for such property (70% to 90% of the home's insured value).
When determining your coverage needs, the Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginians
to consider all of the items in their home that warrant special protection. This
may include luxury items such as jewelry, electronics, and art or items that support
personal passions such as antiques. These items may have a significant impact on
your insurance needs. You can list these items separately on your homeowners insurance
policy and assign a value to them. This means that they are no longer included in
the limit that applies to other personal property. This approach usually makes it
easier to obtain a satisfactory claim settlement should damage occur.
"Protect your personal belongings by preparing a complete home inventory before
a loss occurs or disaster strikes," said SCC Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K.
Cunningham. "This can help you to determine the amount of insurance coverage you
need and, done properly, can facilitate the claim settlement process if a loss occurs.
Keep this inventory in a safe place, such as in a safe deposit box or at work,"
The Bureau of Insurance offers free consumer guides for homeowners, renters, and
businesses. These are available on its website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi.
The Bureau's specially trained staff can assist consumers with their general questions
or concerns about homeowners insurance. For more detailed information regarding
your particular insurance needs, contact your agent or your insurance company.
To contact the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Division, call toll-free
at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at (804) 371-9185. Consumers who are hearing or
speech impaired may call through the SCC's Telecommunications Device for the Deaf
and hard of hearing (TDD) at (804) 371-9206.
The SCC is located in the Tyler Building at 1300 East Main Street in downtown Richmond.
The Bureau's mailing address is P. O. Box 1157, Richmond, Virginia 23218.