Monday, 10 September 2007

Bushfire Preparation - Recording Property Before Loss

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As New South Wales residents on the Mid-North coast prepare for what is forecast to be an above-average hot dry summer season, experts say one thing on the to-do list, should be a home inventory.

A Home Inventory is vital for many reasons. When you make an insurance claim for lost, stolen, or damaged property, you are required to provide a list of affected items, including the quantity, description, and value of each item. You'll also need copies of bills or receipts or other documentation to support your claim. Even if a loss isn't covered by insurance, this proof will help in substantiating the loss on your tax return or help in expediting theft recovery.

"Relying on your memory during the stressful time following a catastrophe can be an expensive mistake," says Andrew Goodfellow, a Home Inventory Consultant based on the Mid-North coast of New South Wales. "Not only are you likely to forget something, but you also need to provide proof of ownership to your insurance company."

"You will only be compensated for your loss based on the proof you provide. Some individuals have been shocked when they received only 30-50% of the value of their insured loss, because they could not provide proof," Goodfellow added.

Although bushfires are one threat, a more realistic danger to homeowners comes from more mundane causes: burglary, electrical fires, floods, and non-catastrophic storms. Conducting a home inventory will provide peace of mind for many homeowners.

Goodfellow provides tips on conducting an inventory:
  • Taking one room at a time, make a list of items in the room.
  • Be as detailed as possible. Open drawers, closets, and built-in cabinets.
  • Record the contents of under-bed storage boxes and closets.
  • Be thorough. Don't forget the garage, storage shed, and attic.
  • Often-forgotten items include sports equipment, garden tools, garden furniture, items in storage etc.
  • Record all vital information, including item description, manufacturer, brand name, colour, cost,model and serial number.
  • Be as detailed as possible, recording the quantity of items - for example, 'Charm bracelet, with eight sterling silver charms: horse, butterfly, birthday cake, star, angel, flip-flop shoe, baby rattle, and tennis racket.'
  • Include a description of where or how the item was obtained, and the date of purchase or age of the item.
  • Include receipts or other proof of purchase, showing cost. List the current value and replacement cost if known.
  • Attach a photocopy of any appraisals for items that may have increased in value since purchase (i.e. antiques, art).
  • Photograph or videotape your possessions. Photos or video will help to prove ownership and show the condition of the item at the date of inventory.
  • Take a photo of the daily newspaper, or hold up a copy of the paper in the video to substantiate the date, if you cannot embed the date into the media.
  • Update your inventory at least once a year.
Once Your Home Inventory Is Completed Follow These Rules.....
  • Remember to add in all 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 in your desk drawer.
  • Do not store the inventory on your home PC! Thieves steal PC's!
  • Mail a copy of your inventory to a trusted friend or relative.
"We encourage people to do their own inventories," says Goodfellow. "But many people don't have the time and some people like the security and professionalism that a third-party inventory service offers."

Aussie Home Inventories offers a FREE DIY Home Inventory Checklist on their website allowing you to start collecting the necessary information for your DIY Home Inventory today!

The early start of bushfire season this year, provides New South Wales Mid-North Coast residents with a good reminder to conduct, or update their Home Inventory.

"Better to be safe than sorry," says Goodfellow. "We hope you won't need it, but if you do, you'll be glad you did! Nothing can replace your belongings, but being able to replace lost belongings quicker and easier without any hassle is sure worth it!"

If you are interested in learning more about how to progress with your home inventory or getting one taken contact the office of Aussie Home Inventories.

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