How to Insure Your Personal Belongings

One great thing about a renters, homeowners or mobile home insurance policy is that it allows you to insure your personal belongings. However, many people don’t take the proper steps to ensure that their belongings are protected if they are lost stolen or damaged, rendering this feature of their insurance policy useless.

Here’s how to make sure your insurance policy will be there to protect your personal belongings when you need it.

Make sure you have the right type of insurance policy

This is an issue that comes up especially often for renters. Many landlords require tenants to have renters insurance so that they are protected if someone is injured or sustains damage to their property while on the property. A renter’s insurance policy can also pay for damage caused to the property by the tenant so that the landlord doesn’t’ have to make a claim on his or her own insurance policy. However you’re your renters insurance policy doesn’t have coverage for personal belongings, then it won’t do you any good if your items are damaged, lost or stolen.

Many apartment complexes in Arizona offer liability insurance through an affiliate so that renters can just add on the cost of the insurance to their monthly rent. It’s important to carefully examine the details of this insurance policy. Some renters are under the impression that the insurance offered by their landlord will protect their belongings if they are lost, stolen or damaged, but that is not usually the case. Normally, the landlord with only offer liability insurance. That alone does not insure your belongings.

Insuring Expensive Items like Jewelry and Electronics: So you have an insurance policy that says it will cover your belongings if they are lost, stolen or damaged. All set, right? Not necessarily. If you want to insure your personal belongings that are very expensive–think $1500 or more–you will most likely need to purchase additional coverage. That’s because your standard insurance policy may max out before it pays for you to replace your expensive handbag collection or home theater.

To avoid this gap, you can purchase a supplement to your insurance policy called an endorsement, or a floater, that will provide protection for your expensive belongings. It may cost you a few hundred dollars more a year to protect your most expensive items, but many people find that the peace of mind it brings is worth it.

So how do you know if an item needs an endorsement or a floater? Find out how much your insurance policy will pay out for each item you might need to replace. If your policy will only pay you $1000 to replace your diamond necklace, and it’s worth $5,000, you will need to buy additional protection if you want your item to be protected. Each time you acquire an expensive item, call your insurance company to let them know so they can talk with you about options for insuring.

Take inventory of all your important belongings

Many people can’t take advantage of the protection that their homeowners or renters insurance policy offers because they haven’t kept detailed records of their purchases. An insurance company won’t be able to help you insure your personal belongings and help you replace them if you can’t prove that you ever owned them.

To do this, you should take photos and video of all of the items you want to insure. Some common items to start with are furniture, expensive clothing, electronics like TVs and laptops and jewelry. Some people do video walkthroughs of their homes, filming their belongings as they go. This is a great way to provide proof of your belongings and it doesn’t take much time.

Now you need to start a list to keep track of the items you have. The list should include:

  • Exact product name
  • Detailed description of the item
  • Price you paid for the item
  • Price the item appraised for (if applicable)
  • Whether or not you have the receipt (and a photo or screen grab of the receipt if you do)
  • The serial number or identifying number (if there is one)

The Insurance Information Institute has a free home inventory tool that allows you to create and maintain a home inventory and keep it stored safely in the cloud. If you don’t want to use a tool like this, you could just create your own list and store it on your own cloud-based storage or email it to yourself. That way, even if everything you own is destroyed in a fire, you will still be able to access your proof.

Update this list regularly and save all necessary documentation—this includes owner’s manuals and receipts. You can take photos of the receipts and add them to your list, but it’s also a good idea to come up with a filing system for your really important receipts.

How much it will cost to insure your personal belongings

Once you have completed you home inventory list, add up the value of all of the items you have written down. This will give you an idea of how much insurance coverage you will need. In general, the larger the cost of your items, the more your monthly premium will be. If you are a renter, you can get coverage for up to ten or twenty thousand dollars worth of items for a very low premium, often less than $150 per year. Keep in mind, for any very expensive items you may need to purchase a floater because your policy may have limits in place for how much it will pay you for each item.

Be honest.

Never intentionally over-estimate how much your items are worth in hopes of getting more money from the insurance company. Doing this is a felony and if you insurance company thinks you are being dishonest, your settlement can be drawn out for weeks or months. Do the right thing so your insurance company can help you.

If disaster strikes…

If your home is burglarized or your items get damaged or lost, give your insurance agent a call right away. You should also read through the most current version of your homeowners insurance policy so you know what to expect when making a claim. If you didn’t plan ahead and don’t have proof that you owned the items that were lost or stolen, you will have a hard time getting any help from the insurance company to replace them. Search for receipts for online purchases in your email or online accounts, check for proof of purchase on your bank or credit card statements, and look for photos or videos taken in your home that might contain images of the belongings that were stolen.

 

If you want to insure your personal belongings and gain some peace of mind, give us a call at Gebhardt Insurance Group. We shop more than 40 different insurance carriers to find you the coverage that best fits your lifestyle and budget and we can walk you through how to insure your personal belongings. Call us today at 520-836-3244 or calculate your coverage costs now.

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Steve Gebhardt

Gebhardt Insurance Group was honored by AAA Insurance for being the top New Policy Agency in Arizona for 2013 and achieving the "Emerald Achievement Award."

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