The Myths and Realities of Property Insurance
The ins and outs of personal property insurance doesn’t need to be as clear as mud. Unfortunately, most policies are about as easy to read ancient Aramaic with a grade school English education. You almost need to be a lawyer in order to wade through it all, but here are some myths and realities for you to help you make it a little easier to understand, especially in terms of why you need to take an inventory of your belongings:
MYTH: I have personal property insurance to cover everything. I don’t need to count it all.
REALITY: You are required, by the insurance company, to document everything you own and provide proof (like photos) for those things you own.
MYTH: If anything goes wrong, my personal property insurance will pay out the amount my policy is worth.
REALITY: If your policy is worth $100,000 and you own $75,000 worth of stuff, the most you will get paid out is $75,000. If you don’t inventory exactly what you have, they will only pay out the bare minimum for everything. For instance, they’ll pay out for one TV whether you have 3 or not, and so on.
MYTH: If anything happens, I can just replace all of my jewelry.
REALITY: While you might own $10,000 in jewelry, you really should read the fine print on your contents insurance. Many insurers have a cap on items like this of about $2500 per policy for all of your pieces, not per piece.
MYTH: I don’t have anything worth the fuss of an inventory.
REALITY: Most people only think of their “valuable” items when asked to inventory. They forget how much all their clothing, appliances, kitchen items, and so on will cost to replace. Your kitchen, including appliances, could cost $2000 or more to replace.
MYTH: I will be able to remember what I have after.
REALITY: If you thought that your stuff wasn’t worth inventorying because you figured your belongings aren’t worth much, then obviously thinking you can remember everything you had after a disaster is silly. Even if you could remember it all, keep in mind that what you don’t have listed won’t get paid for. If you own a $1700 gaming laptop and don’t have it documented, you might get paid out $500 for a basic desktop computer.
I might not be an insurance agent, but I have been close to a disaster in the past with an uncle. He said that, when his house burned down, you never realize how much stuff you actually have until it comes time to replace it. He and his wife hadn’t done an inventory and found that the basic amounts paid out by the personal property insurance company didn’t cover all they had to replace and unfortunately this is a common thing. Get your insurance agent to go over all this stuff in your policy and if they don’t have time for you, then get yourself a new agent or provider all together.