NAIC survey: Most homeowners have no home inventory (and how to easily make one)

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners today released the results of a survey indicating that most Americans don't have a home inventory of their possessions.

The February survey indicated that 59 percent of consumers haven't made a list of what they own. Of those that had, nearly half didn't have receipts. More than a quarter didn't have photos of their property.

Home inventories are a key tool for recovering from a tornado, flood, earthquake or other disaster. They can speed up and dramatically simplify the insurance claims process. They can also help you and your agent decide if you have enough coverage if you have a rare collection or other high-value items. (On average, home contents are reimbursed only up to 50 percent of the home's insured value. In other words, if you're house is insured for $200,000, the maximum contents reimbursement would typically be $100,000.)

Last year, severe weather disasters inflicted more than $43 billion in the United States, according to the NAIC.

How to prepare a home inventory? There are smartphone applications to help. The myHOME Scr.APP.book app lets users capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers of personal possessions and stores the information electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information by room and creates a back-up file for email sharing. There's a version for the iPhone and another version for Android phones.

For those without a smart phone, the NAIC offers a downloadable home inventory checklist and tips for effectively cataloguing your possessions.

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