Tips to Keep Documents, Records and Photos Safe
One of the most difficult tragedies for homeowners and renters is the total destruction of their house in a fire, hurricane or other disaster. All of a sudden, you have lost your home and everything in it. The financial loss is devastating enough, but there are also the memories of your life there.
One of the things you don’t have to worry about, though, is losing your insurance policies in the destruction. Your independent agent and your insurance company each have a record of your current policy and coverage amounts.
The question remains, what papers should you protect in the event of a total loss to your home? And do you have coverage for valuable papers in your homeowner’s insurance policy?
In the personal property section of most homeowner’s policies is a list of special limits of liability. There will be some coverage for the cash and documents in your home, such as securities accounts, deeds, evidences of debt, letters of credit, notes other than bank notes, manuscripts, passports, tickets and stamps.
So, there is some coverage in your homeowner’s insurance policy for your valuable papers, but items like your family mementos, such as photos, CDs and videos, are irreplaceable. It’s not fun to anticipate the potential for losing those valuable possessions, but it’s smart to back up any data files of photographic images so you are prepared.
Which Documents to Protect
What papers should you protect and how should you protect them? The American Red Cross has created a list of records that you should keep in a bank safe deposit box. They include:
· Birth, death, and marriage certificates
· Divorce and child custody papers
· Adoption papers
· Military records
· Social Security cards
· Copies of drivers’ licenses
· Mortgage/property deeds
· Stock and bond certificates
· Car titles
· List of insurance policies (life, health, disability, long-term care, auto, homeowners, renters); include the type of policy, company, policy number, and name of insured
· Copies of power of attorney, living will
· Trust documents
The Red Cross also recommends a disaster supplies kit. The kit itself is any portable, fire resistant, waterproof box that you can grab in a hurry on your way out of your house during a disaster. You can place family photographs and videos here along with this list of records you might keep in the box:
· Letter of instruction to your loved ones in case you are not there to help them through a disaster.
· Federal and state tax returns (if you have room, store all of your returns here, but if not, at least keep the three most recent ones in the kit).
· List of emergency contacts, including doctors, financial advisers, and family members.
· Copies of important medical information, including your health insurance card, doctor’s name and phone number, immunization records and prescriptions.
· Inventory of your possessions.
· Warranties and receipt s for major purchases.
· Appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, artwork, and other valuable items.
· Credit card records.
· Retirement account records.
· Recent checking, savings, and investment account statements.
· Rental agreement/lease and/or mortgage documents.
· Home improvement records.
· Recent pay stubs and employee benefits information.
· Backups of critical digital information, such as any accounting files.
· Safe deposit box information (location, contents, and key).
As you can see, some planning and a little work ahead of time can make a disaster to your home just a little easier to handle, especially when it comes to your valuable papers and irreplaceable family photos and videos. We will be with you every step of the way, no matter what your insurance needs. Call our office at 402-254-3915.