6 Steps to protect your home while traveling
Traveling is one of life’s little pleasures that make all of those long days at the office worth it. You take off one, maybe two, weeks to venture away from the daily grind of home life where you have to help with homework, take out the trash, do the dishes and pay the bills. You work hard for your money, so you like to use those vacation days you earned.
Hooray! Good for you. Now what about all that stuff you leave behind? What happens if there is a storm that knocks over a tree or someone robs your house? Possessions being taken are not the end of the world. This is not a reason you should stay home, but you do need to be prepared if something does happen while you are away.
Take Inventory of Your Home
Most of us bought a homeowner’s insurance policy when we bought our homes. In the U.S. it’s really hard to get a mortgage without one. In that policy you had to guess the value of all of your stuff– TV, baseball card collection from 1985, jewelry, clothes, etc. There is a lot more to what is in your home than the valuable possessions that come to mind though. You really need to take a home inventory, and Nationwide has a few tips in a recent article they posted—An Inventory of Your Life.
- STEP ONE: Before you get started, figure out how you will document your belongings. If you plan to do it digitally, decide where you will store your photos and lists. You can’t have just one copy on your laptop. It might not be there if something happens to your house. Give family members flash drives to hold onto, store your data in the cloud, and email yourself a few files just in case.
- STEP TWO: Go room by room taking photos. Nationwide suggests– stand in the doorway and slowly rotate clockwise, taking overlapping frames that eventually take in the whole room.
- STEP THREE: Get into the details of the room. Put sticky notes on specific features, like crown molding, artwork and the brand of appliances. Take photos of all of these items exactly where they are placed in the room.
- STEP FOUR: Scan all receipts, warranties and appraisals for electronics, appliances and anything of value.
- STEP FIVE: Now that you have photos of everything, grab a binder and get organized. Label everything exactly how it is labeled in the photos so there is no confusion. Put a cover page at the front of your binder with your insurance agency contact information so it is easy to call them when you need to reach out.
- STEP SIX: Upload everything to the cloud, your email and flash drives. Keep a printed copy in your house, preferably in a fireproof safe, or in a safe deposit box at your bank. You never know when digital will fail you.
Being prepared cannot prevent natural disasters or theft, but it can give you peace of mind that your home can be repaired and your property can be replaced. It’s really hard to wrap your head around the events that lead to you needing your inventory. My house was robbed twice when I was a kid. Each time we thought we remembered everything that had been taken, but a few months later we would remember something else once we went looking for it. Keep your inventory handy, and you may not have to guess when your insurance agent asks what is gone.