Practical Photography Can Protect Your Home And Possessions May 20 2013, 0 Comments


Protecting Your Home and Possessions

Natural disasters can strike at anytime. Many come without warning. And since most of us do not have a photographic memory, a weekend with your camera can be a real asset if you ever have to make an insurance claim.

No matter where you live, you should have photographs of your home, household contents and any possessions that you have stored away from your primary residence. These simple steps can insure that you have proof of what you own. You can get the photos you need just by using a small Canon Power Shot camera. You do not need a professional photographer to do this for you. It is however, going to take a good bit of time, so plan to take an entire weekend. If you ever need this documentation you will be glad to that you took the time to do it.

First, take some general photos of the outside of your house. Take photos of each side of your house. Take photos of any out buildings such as barns and sheds, even the dog house. Take photos of wooden fences as well as fences made from other materials such as metal. Then, get up close and open the doors to the out buildings and sheds. Take inventory of what you have. Make a list and then photograph all items. For things like lawn mowers and other equipment, take more than one photo. Take several views. This proves the condition of the items and shows clearly what the items are. Write down serial numbers for mowers, power tools, bicycles and other equipment. Add to the list when items were purchased and if you can remember, write down where the items were purchased. (For example, John Deer mower, Lowes, 2008, $1675) The more specific you can be, the easier time you will have, hopefully, if you ever have to make a claim. Once this is complete, you are ready for step two.

Take overview photographs of every room in your house. Show the whole room from several angles. This will provide an excellent record of how the rooms are set up. Then, and this is going to take some time, open every draw, cupboard, and closet. Photograph up close, every book, CD, photo, appliance, and computer. Photograph every sofa, chair and lamp. Photograph all clothes, shoes, toys, silverware, pots and pans, dishes, antiques, and family heirlooms. Be sure that all art, sculpture, jewelry and more expensive items are photographed individually. Make lists as you do this. Document serial numbers, cost at the time of purchase and locate any receipts that you may have. The process as I said will take time. For those who are pack rats, this may be particularly time consuming. It is not enough to take pictures of boxes. You have to be able to prove what is in the boxes. Very expensive items should be listed individually on your insurance policies.  

Next, gather important documents such as passports, birth certificates, medical records, photo ID’s and your insurance policies. They should be kept together in one place so that if you have to leave in a hurry you can “grab and go.” Do the same with family photos that can’t be replaced. Always keep computer files backed up on an external hard drive so that instead of trying to grab a computer, you can grab a small hard drive the size of a thick novel!

After you have captured your images, you should do the following…

Make a set of prints and keep them with your other important papers. Make three copies of your photos on CD/DVD. One copy should be placed in a fire box; one copy should absolutely be located somewhere other than your home, perhaps a safe deposit box. The third copy should be kept with your “grab and go” documents in case you have to evacuate your home in a hurry.

Your photos should be updated as the contents of your house change. We clean out our closets, we outgrow clothes, and we make donations of items we are not using anymore. We acquire additional items. While I often put this in the dreaded category of washing windows, it is smart, and it is necessary to do.  Once a year, take the time to protect what you have worked so hard for…get the photos taken. (Written by: