Preparing an inventory list of the personal belongings in your home saves time and money after a major storm. We recommend that everyone should create a descriptive list of items and update it regularly. However, if you’re worried that you don’t have any proof of the personal belongings you lost in a hurricane, don’t panic. When you don’t have an inventory list, you can still receive compensation from your insurance claim, simply by using other forms of evidence to prove how your property was before the storm and that you owned certain items.
Evidence of the Loss of Personal Belongings After a Hurricane
Even if you don’t have official documentation of your home’s contents, there are other acceptable methods to demonstrate evidence of your personal belongings after they’ve been lost in a hurricane. Typically, policyholders in this situation will turn to:
- Bank account and credit card statements. For most homeowners, major purchases are made by check, check card, or credit card. Luckily, banks and credit card companies allow clients to access several years of their statement records online. You can also request a hardcopy of your archived records for proof of purchases. However, since many financial institutions switched to paperless archiving to save money, be prepared for this request to take some time to fulfill—usually a couple of weeks—and possibly require upfront processing fees.
- Photographs. If possible, go through your family photos and the photos on phones and digital devices. If you have any photos of you or anyone in your family with the items that were lost in the hurricane, you can submit the photos as evidence for your insurance claim. Whether the photo is focused on the item or simply shows it in the background, it can be helpful. Photographs are also useful to show the exterior or structure of your home prior to the storm, so consider supplementing your inventory list in this way.
- Videos. Video footage is another helpful tool to catalog your personal belongings. Although it might not be the first thing that springs to mind, many homeowners have video clips of their personal items saved on their phones, digital devices, and cameras, especially from the holidays. For example, if you have a Christmas video showing a new flat screen TV, that video could serve as proof that you owned the television. Videos expand upon photographic proof because they often show several items in the same clip, as well as how they were arranged in your home.
If you have questions about what kind of documentation your insurance company needs for personal belongings, call your representative. If you’re unable to get the answers you need from the insurance company, you also have the option of consulting with an attorney for help preparing an inventory of your home’s lost contents after a hurricane.
Hurricane Claim Delays
If you didn’t have a home inventory prepared before the hurricane, you may still be able to collect insurance payments for your personal belongings, but it’s likely your claim will take longer to resolve. Factor in the time it will take for you to collect all the proper information, and then how much additional time the insurance company needs for review. Because so many people and properties are usually affected after a hurricane, this also compounds delays in the response from insurance companies, contractors, and others entities that play a part in preparing and settling your claim.
However, if the insurance company has stopped responding to your questions, or if your claim still isn’t settled after waiting for months after the storm, it’s important to start inquiring about reasons for the delay. To understand your rights when an insurance company unfairly delays or denies a claim, you can speak to a knowledgeable attorney with the skill to handle policyholder concerns.
At the Voss Law Firm, we have extensive experience helping home and business owners determine proof of what items were lost or damaged in a storm. We encourage you to call 888-614-7730 today with your questions and concerns. You may also find it helpful to request a complimentary copy of our book, Your Essential Guide to Residential Claims.