Despite big storms and wildfires highlighting the need, home inventories are rare, say insurance industry experts.
A recent Allstate Insurance survey of Atlanta homeowners found that while than more than 90 percent of homeowners are concerned about protecting their homes, only 41 percent had ever documented or valued their contents.
According to Jay Straughan, Enservio’s vice president of claims, almost none of the insureds he encounters have property inventory lists.
“It’s very, very rare. In fact, I’m not aware of a claim where a policyholder was able to say, ‘Here’s my pre-loss list, and I’ve checked off the items that were burned up in the fire or that were stolen.’ I’m not aware of a single time where that’s happened,” Straughan said.
In addition to making it harder to tackle a loss once it has taken place, not having a property inventory can cause a delay in claim resolution.
According to a survey by The Hanover Insurance Group, homeowners receive claim payments faster when they have a home inventory. An Insurance Journal magazine poll, sponsored by the Mass.-based insurer, found that nearly 80 percent of insurance professionals believe homeowners’ insurance claims are processed 50-100 percent faster when customers have completed a home inventory in advance.
“This survey says loud and clear that there’s a real value in taking the upfront time to create a home inventory,” said Mark Welzenbach, chief claims officer at The Hanover.
Survey respondents said there were two keys to a good home inventory: item descriptions and proof of ownership.
Even when an insured creates a property inventory, the value-driving descriptors are lacking, Straughan said.
“For example, they may say table, or they may say chair or they may say desk. For a high net worth insured, a desk could be $150 or it could be $150,000, depending on what kind of desk it is,” said Straughan. “Is it a museum quality antique, or is it a small school sized desk like a child might use in classroom or is it a roll top desk.
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