by Aaron Contreras, GEICO Commercial Insurance
On March 25th, 2012, the Bangor Daily News reported the following from Fort Kent, Maine:
“Firefighters on the scene reported the building was totally engulfed when they arrived and estimated it took less than 20 minutes for Nadeau’s House of Furniture to be completely destroyed.”
In twenty minutes the entirety of this business’ onsite inventory and personal property was utterly destroyed. While none of us like to consider such massive loss occurring in our own lives, this very well could have been your business, or your home. Your insurance policy can help to recover your lost assets, but few people are prepared to list out their property in full at a moment’s notice.
Think about it… Your furniture, computers and servers, specialty equipment and tools, heavy machinery… Especially difficult to produce without preparation are brand names, model numbers, and prices. Having this information arranged beforehand makes submitting a claim much smoother, with less estimation work on the part of an insurance company such as GEICO. Moreover, it helps you to carry the right amount of insurance coverage in the first place, as you’ll have a much clearer understanding of how much it will cost to recover from a disaster.
Although a simple handwritten list will get the job done, consider grabbing a video camera instead. The advantage to creating a video inventory is that you’re able to narrate as you go, describing the items in detail while giving the adjuster a complete look at your property.
The first step you’ll need to take is to lay out as much information about your purchases as you’re able. Receipts contain a wealth of important information, but even if you don’t have them, you should be able to lookup most items on the Internet.
Obtaining a video camera does not need to be particularly expensive and even your smartphone’s video camera will work in a pinch. Something is better than nothing at all, but the higher quality the video; the easier it will be to accurately identify the items. Simply work your way down the list, describing each asset as you film it along the way. “This is a Dell OptiPlex 390 Mini Tower, serial number XX-999-999. Cost $948.99 new, purchased in January 2012.”
If your assets are numerous, it may make more sense to outsource this process. Fortunately, third party video inventory services are available for hire.
Once you’ve completed your inventory, store it off-site for safe keeping. Update your video inventory annually, and film big ticket purchases made during the course of the year as quick addendums. Hopefully, you’ll never actually need to lean on your creation for a claim. The peace of mind it offers you if a catastrophe were to occur, however, is well worth the time-investment.
Did you know that GEICO offers a discount to IAAP members? Check it out today.