When it comes to renters insurance, it’s not enough to just take out a policy and hope for the best. A lot of the effectiveness of a renter’s insurance policy depends on good documentation by the policy holder. Here are some of the guidelines for making sure you can take advantage of a renter’s policy in case you need to make a claim.
General Inventory for Beginners
The first thing you need to establish in preparing for a renter’s insurance policy is a long list of all of your household goods and belongings. You will want to establish a certain threshold for documenting your possessions; otherwise, in most cases, the list simply gets too long. Rather than going through the house at random, establish a minimum dollar value and keep all of your replaceable and cheap items off of the list. Restrict your inventory to items that have value.
When you have a list of all of your valuable items, you’ll want to also include prices or price estimates for these items. This may be difficult if the items are gifts, family heirlooms, found items, etc. You’ll also need to establish a system for pricing used possessions. Find out if your renter’s insurance uses Actual Cash Value (ACV), Replacement Value (RV) or some other system for paying out on claims. Then try to estimate what your items are worth on today’s market and document this on your inventory list.
If you can come up with a total for all of your possessions, this can be useful in negotiating a policy with your renter’s insurance company.
Many times, an insurance company or other party will ask for supporting documentation above and beyond your inventory list.
One good rule of come is to always keep shopping receipts for valuable items. This helps your household in several ways, as keeping receipts is also a good idea for tax purposes. It helps to designate specific folders for receipts and proofs of purchase.
Another idea is to engrave or stamp serial numbers on valuable items. Some of the things you may want to label and identify include jewelry, furniture, electronics, and other high dollar pieces.
These days, another common strategy is to document your items using a still camera or video camera. With digital photography, visual documentation got worlds easier, as well as a lot cheaper. Before that time, it was considered frivolous to simply snap pictures everywhere. Video and still-shot documentation can come in extremely handy for some types of renter’s insurance claims. Insurers can see what the stuff looked like before the accident, theft or other event. This helps them make common sense judgments about payouts. Video documentation is another thing that’s somewhat easy to do, and can be very valuable in terms of supporting your renters insurance claim.
Generally, those taking out renters insurance need to read the fine print of their agreement and realize what kind of estimate tools the insurer will use to offer claim payouts. Talking to insurer representatives at the outset helps to avoid misunderstandings if you ever do need to use your insurance policy. Keep your detailed inventory in a safe place, and you’ll be better prepared to deal with any unfortunate event.