If your home were reduced to a pile of rubble in a tornado, windstorm or flooding, would you be able to tell your insurance agent everything you have?
Bobbi Jo James could barely remember what she had when she lost many of her possessions to a break in.
"That's the first thing the insurance company and the police officer asked me," she said, "is whether I had the serial number to the laptop."
But she had no receipts and no records, making it much tougher to collect on her claim.
Avoid Insurance Nightmare
This season's heavy rains and tornadoes are a reminder that you can lose everything a flash. So make a record.
The simplest thing: Use your phone to take pictures of everything from your HDTV.... to appliances.... to your movie collection.... to jewelry.
If you still use a home video recorder, simply walk around your house showing all your valuables, and narrating as you go.
But in this smartphone age, to make it easier, there's an app for that.
Apps That Inventory
We tried out the $4 MyStuff2 app for the iPhone and iPad: Theres also a simpler, free version, called MyStuff2lite.
Both get good ratings, but are for Apple products only.
For Android phones, there's the MyHomePro app, also $4. You take pictures, then scan barcodes or type in a description.
Another high rated, but more pricey app is the aptly-named HomeInventory app, for iPhone or iPad. But it is $19.
There's also a free app from Liberty Mutual Insurance that gets good reviews called HomeGallery.
We tried it out and were impressed, given that it costs nothing. Best of all you don't need to be a Liberty Mutual customer.
It collects photos, barcodes, and descriptions, which you can then send to your email account, to save permanently.
Bobbi Jo says not documenting her stuff made reimbursement a nightmare, and urges others to plan before it's too late.
As always, don't waste your money.
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