One of the most common mistakes insurance customers make is also the easiest to fix, and it has to do with insurance records. Record keeping is extremely important both when you first set up your insurance plan and whenever you file a claim. Yet all too often insurance customers fall short in this aspect. You don’t have to join the ranks of customers who don’t keep proper insurance records. These tips will help you maximize your coverage and keep your records accurate year after year.
Store Your Policy Documents
First thing is first, you want to keep a file of all your current insurance policies on hand. Don’t just store them without looking at them either! Your provider will mail you all policy documents periodically, but it’s all too easy to open the letter and put off reading them. Do yourself a favor and take the time to sit down and read them. If there is something you don’t understand, now is the time to contact your agent with questions. It’s common for customers to be confused about portions of their insurance policies, after all they are complex documents. But the worse thing you can do is gloss over details you’re not sure about. Square State Insurance is always happy to respond to any policy questions you may have. Once you have a good understanding of each policy, file them away together for future reference if an incident ever arises. Insurance companies will have document backups online should you ever need them.
Document Your Possessions
As soon as your insurance policies are active, you’ll want to document and record all your possessions. This is especially important with any homeowners or renters policy. Photos and videos are key in this effort. Any image evidence of your items will aid in future claims should they arise. It only takes a few hours to do this, but many customers put it off again and again. If you put it off too long, you won’t have the evidence you need when a claim arises. Now is the time to document you possessions while you still have the opportunity. It’s a key part of maintaining insurance records.
Your best bet is to be systematic with documentation. Start with one end of your home or apartment and work your way through each and every important item. Check to make sure you’re taking clear photos of each item before moving on to the next. If you’re taking videos, make sure to break them up into short segments vs. one long segment. In the event of a claim, an adjuster won’t want one long video to reference, plus long videos are hard to email or upload. Don’t forget about valuable items in storage or in separate structures like garages or sheds. You’ll want to document all those valuables for your insurance records as well. When editing the footage, it’s best to name each file after the item shown. For example, a photo of your laptop should be “laptop.jpg.”
Speaking of images and video, a friendly word on data storage. Taking photos on your digital camera and then leaving it around the house is not an effective method of record keeping. If something happens to your house and your camera is in it, you’re out of luck. The same goes with storing photos on your phone. Drop and break it, or leave it in your house, and your records are gone. Emailing yourself photos is a better strategy, but data limits will force you to break images up into several emails, and it can be hard to keep everything straight. Hard drives offer plenty of storage space, but they are only effective storage measures if they are stored off site. Security lock boxes are a good place for these records, or fire safes can serve a similar purpose if you don’t want to setup a lock box. Remember to back your data up. One hard drive is never enough, you’ll want duplicates in case something happens to one. Don’t make the mistake of storing them in the same place either.
We all hope it never happens, but sometimes you need to file a claim for damage. This can be true for homeowners, renters, auto and other policies. It is during a claim that your earlier documentation of your possessions really pays off. You can prove that you own these items and that they need replaced, especially if they are damaged beyond recognition or stolen. However, just because you documented the items up front doesn’t mean you don’t need to document the damage now. As soon as you’re safe and the event or accident is over, it is time to snap into action. Take out your phone and snap as many photos as you can. Get every angle of the damage including any injuries sustained. In the event of a break in, make sure it’s safe and you’ve called the police, and then photograph the scene. Don’t be conservative here, the more photos the better. You never really know when they might be needed for a claim.
Final Thoughts On Insurance Records
Record keeping is a key component of any insurance policy. Carriers can’t do this important job for you, and if you don’t do it, your claim might be impacted by poor documentation. It is without a doubt worth your time to knock this out now if you haven’t already. It could save you money and protect your possessions down the line. Need help getting started or tips on what to document? Contact Square State Insurance today and we’d be happy to walk you through the process.