May 05, 2008 13:30 ET

A Home Inventory Provides the Tools to Maximize Insurance Claims

Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, City Editor, Home/Garden Editor, News Editor KITCHENER, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 5, 2008) - As the weather moves more and more into spring, and we leave winter behind, homeowners are starting the annual ritual of "Spring Cleaning". It is hard to believe all of the things that we have managed to accumulate in such a short period of time.

With the raking of yards, opening of pools and "Spring Cleaning" underway, experts say one thing on the to-do list should be a home inventory.

"Many people are aware that they should have one, yet only about 20% of households have completed one." says Kevin Mikolash, co-owner of TRACK-IT.

"But after spring cleaning," adds Mikolash, "when everything is organized, that is the time to do an inventory. In a total loss, due to theft or fire, who could recall all of the possessions that have been accumulated over the years?"

Insurance companies all suggest that people have a current inventory, to simplify and maximize insurance claims. A home inventory also allows you to be confident that your insurance policy accurately reflects the value of your possessions.

When speaking to Wendy Beattie, an agent for Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, she agreed with the importance of an accurate and detailed home inventory.

"If you want the same like and quality of the property you own," points out Beattie, "a detailed home inventory, especially of big ticket items is a great way to prove ownership. Conducting a home inventory can provide peace of mind. What is your "Sleep at Night Factor?"

Mikolash provides tips, available at, on conducting a home inventory:

* Take One Room at a Time. Make a list of each item in the room. Be as detailed as possible. Open drawers, closets and built-in cabinets. Also record the contents of under-bed storage boxes and "hope" or cedar chests.
* Be Thorough. Don't forget the garage, storage shed and attic. Often-forgotten items include sports equipment, lawn gear and barbeque grills.
* Record All the Vital Statistics. Include the item description, manufacture or brand name, colour and model and/or serial numbers. Be as detailed as possible, recording quantity of items - for example, "Borsheim's charm bracelet, with eight sterling silver charms: horse, butterfly, birthday cake, star, angel, flip flop shoe, baby rattle and tennis racket." Also include a description of where of how the item was obtained and the date of purchase or age of the item. Include a receipt or other proof of purchase (if available), showing cost. List the current value and/or replacement value cost (if known). Attach a photocopy of any appraisals for items that may have increased in value since purchase (i.e. antiques)
* Photograph or Videotape Your Possessions. Photos or a VHS video or DVD will show ownership and condition of the item as of the date of the inventory. Take a photo of the daily newspaper or hold up a copy of the paper in the video to substantiate the date.
* Update Your Inventory at Least once a Year. Already have an inventory? Remember to add in all of those new items you've purchased in the last year. And don't forget to remove items you no longer own.
* Keep A Copy of Your Inventory Off- Site. If your home burns down, it won't do you any good to have your inventory stored in your closet. Give a copy to a trusted friend or relative, or keep a copy in your safety deposit box.

"We encourage people to do a home inventory," says Jeff Davies, co-owner of TRACK-IT. "But many people like the security that a third-party professional inventory offers."

The start of spring provides homeowners with a good reminder to conduct - or update - their home inventory.

"Better to be safe than sorry." says Davies. "We hope you won't need it, but if you do, you'll be glad you took the time! Nothing can replace the things you have lost, but maximizing an insurance claim - without as much hassle is sure worth it."
/For further information: IN: ECONOMY, FINANCE, OTHER

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