It is fire season, at least in California. And the fires are already starting. The Angora Fire in the Sierra Nevada mountains has burned over 2,500 acres and 200 homes. After a fire like this, you need to call your agent. But there are things you can do BEFORE a loss to make sure you are protected after a claim.
- Videotape the inside of your house – twice. Keep one copy in your house and put one in the bank safe deposit box. While videotaping, walk around the house and describe what you are taping, including what the item is, when you bought it, where you bought it and how much it cost. Example: “This is a 32″ LCD tv I bought at Costco for $800 in 2006.” This will provide documentation to the insurance adjuster after a loss.
- Save receipts for big ticket items. No one expects you to have receipts for socks and shoes, but if you bought a $500 item, make sure you save the receipt. Your insurance company will want to see these after a big claim.
- Make sure your premium is paid. Even if your mortgage company pays it, make sure that they have paid it when it is due.
- Double check the amount of coverage. Call around to other agents and ask for quotes. You do not want to pick the insurance company that values the house at the lowest price as this will give you the least amount of coverage.
- If you have special property like a wedding ring or collectibles, make sure these are separately insured. Ask your agent to “schedule” the items.
- Review your coverage every year. If you have had major changes like an addition, make sure your insurance is changed to reflect this.
- Keep a clear space around your property, especially if you live in fire prone areas. This will help you prevent a loss.
- Keep a copy of your insurance agent’s card with you if you are traveling. You do not want a call from a friend or neighbor that your house has burned down and you cannot get in touch with anyone. The key to getting a claim paid quickly is to report it quickly. A delay of a few days can put you much further down the list.
These tips will help you before you suffer a loss. No one wants to be the one who has fire damage, water damage or a major theft. But, if you follow these eight tips, once a loss occurs you will be able to get back on your feet quickly.