Make an inventory of home for fast insurance claim settlement – The Economic Times

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At the time of any odd situation, like a calamity, all you want from your insurer is a quick and easy settlement of your claim.

Executive Director, ICICI Lombard General Insurance

Your home is your biggest investment and it is the place where your family shares many memorable moments. However, no matter how many precautions you take, the threat of loss of property from fire, theft, natural calamities or man-made events, like terrorism, are always present.

A one-minute earthquake can shake the entire dwelling, leaving it in shambles. In no time, a fire can turn all the hard work and emotions attached to the house into ashes. You cannot foresee these events but can definitely safeguard against the financial losses by proactively taking a home insurance policy.

Home insurance not only covers the damage to the facade or the physical structure of the house, but different premium options can provide protection for the contents inside the house as well. Whichever policy an individual takes, the only aim is to get covered against all odds. Thus at the time of any such odd situation, like a calamity, all you want from your insurer is a quick and easy settlement of your claim.

One of the keys to a quick claim settlement is to keep an accurate inventory of your belongings. It is important to compile a home inventory list by making a detailed list of your possessions including receipts, descriptions and photos of your home’s contents. Your inventory will take a little time to compile, but at the time of emergency it would be extremely helpful.

A Few tips on compiling a home inventory

Record serial numbers of small appliances and other theft-prone items.

Along with the description of each item, attach its receipt.

If you are doing an audio or video inventory, start in one corner of the room and work your way around until the whole room has been covered.

Don’t forget to include closets and the attic and the basement.

A detailed record of antiques, jewellery, silvers, sporting goods, major appliances and collector’s items is very important. These items should be valued from time to time by a certified valuer, so that you get the benefit from the current evaluation of any item. Keep your inventory up-to-date and review it from time to time.

Tips for your inventory photos

To record your inventory, any camera with a flash will do. Either slides or prints are fine. Colour photographs show details better. You can also use a video camera.

Photographs of bills and invoices may also help incase the same are lost in any eventuality.

Make sure to mark the photos, slides and videotapes with the dates on which they are taken. If appropriate, record the date of purchase, brand name and purchase price of each item next to the picture.

To get an overall picture, take wide-angle shots of the entire room. Then take several close-ups to capture detail. Start from one corner of the room and work your way around.

Focus your flash away from mirrors and other reflective surfaces by standing at a 45-degree angle to the shiny surface.

When using a flash, try not to get closer than the recommended focus range. If you must get closer, dim the flash by placing a white handkerchief over the flash while taking the picture.

Open glass doors to prevent reflection.

A family member in the picture helps substantiate ownership.

Open closet doors to indicate quantity of clothing.

Remember to take pictures of the insides of drawers with the contents.

Use a non-glare dark cloth as a background for silver, chinaware or jewellery.

When photographing jewellery, keep the flash at an angle to avoid glare.

If you want to take only a few pictures, either take pictures of groups of your most valuable un-appraised items, or record whole rooms with your most valuable and theft-prone items prominently displayed.

After the entire inventory list and photographs are documented, all the original documents should be kept at a safe place. It is advisable to keep a photocopy of the documents at a friend or relative’s place in case the originals are lost or burnt. A copy of filmed tapes and photographs should also be kept at a safe place away from your house; a bank locker could be one option.

This inventory list will act as proof in your claim and the insurer can refer to the list. This will clear any doubts regarding settlement of your claim. Proper documentation and photographs will ensure a speedy settlement of the claim.

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