A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Since it is January, hurricane prep is pretty much the last thing on most people’s minds. After all, storm season is six months away. No risk right now means out of sight, out of mind when it comes to preparing for the worst.
Yet, now is the time to act on a critical step in proper hurricane prep. I’m not talking about stocking up on cases of water, nonperishable food, and batteries. I’m not talking about running down to Lowes or Home Depot to buy sheets of plywood and electric generators. I’m talking about video recording everything in your home to document what you have before it possibly gets destroyed. This advice applies to other disasters too. Obviously, it’s good to have receipts to go along with the video, but few of us ever save those. Email yourself the video file, or otherwise, save it in the cloud.
Most people know they should video or photograph their property before something bad happens, but almost nobody does, and it creates headaches during the claims process. All too often people document property damage after the storm and some items blow away, get carried away by a flood, or becomes missing. The trick is to establish a visual baseline before you file a claim.
Let’s say you have a beach house on a barrier island. A big storm comes. Your house gets washed away. How are you supposed to file a claim for the property inside the house? If you kept receipts, they’re probably halfway to Mexico by now. You’ll be able to collect on some of the personal property loss, but without solid documentation, you won’t recover as much as you could have because most people forget all the “stuff” they own.
Put documenting at the head of the hurricane prep list for January. First, walk outside the house. Video the entire perimeter, and don’t forget the roof. It’s important to show what condition the exterior of the home was in prior to the storm.
Next, go inside the house. Walkthrough every room. Shoot everything, like your smart TV, computers, paintings, appliances—you name it. Open up every cabinet. Video what’s inside, even in the kitchen. Shoot your jewelry, coin collection, and anything else of value. Record the condition of the ceilings, walls, and floors.
You might be wondering why we should shoot the ceiling. I’ve had cases where disputes arose because the insurance company claimed that water damage was pre-existing and not the result of the storm. Sounds crazy? Think again. Most insurance companies want to pay as little as possible. That ceiling dispute would’ve been moot if we’d had video or photos.
It may seem obvious that you’ve got to have visual proof of what property was inside the house in order to make a viable claim after a loss. And it is. Put like that it makes perfect sense. Make a video recording your property one of your New Year’s resolutions, and don’t put it off.