No home inventory? Insurance may not pay

Many of us got new gadgets in the past few months: Perhaps an iPad, or a new laptop, or maybe a new 47 inch HDTV.

But did you place a record of what you bought someplace safe? One woman learned the hard way why documenting what you have is so important today.    

Thieves Clear Out Her Home

Bobbi Jo James showed where thieves broke into her home, shattering the glass and her sense of security. "They used a pry bar to bust out the door here," James said.

They grabbed everything in sight, stole her laptop and camera, and grabbed irreplaceable family jewelry.

She felt violated. She felt violated again when the insurance company balked on reimbursing her.

"That's the first thing the insurance company and the police officer asked me," James said.  "Did I have the serial number to the laptop?"

But she had no receipt, no records, not even the box to show what laptop she owned, let alone the value of it.

"Without the records," she said, "you don't get reimbursed by your insurance company. They pretty much set the price to whatever they want to set it at." 

No documentation of a $1,500 MacBook you own means you could be reimbursed just $300 for a 5 year old Gateway laptop.

Many Homeowners Have No Records

Many of us buy jewelry and gadgets, then misplace the receipts.
    
So the Insurance Information Institute recommends you:

    --Make a list of all valuables.  Save receipts, especially for electronics like tablets and laptops, the first things to disappear in a home break-in.

    --Include price paid and model number. Ideally, record the serial number, in case police recover it.

    --Tuck that information into a safe deposit box at the bank or basement safe, where a thief can't get it.

There is some good news: James' insurer finally offered her several hundred dollars for the laptop, camera, and jewelry.  She just hopes others learn from her mistake.

"They definitely need to make a record.  Take a picture if you don't want to write it all down," she said.

So document your valuables:  That will help greatly if you have to make a claim, so you don't waste your money.

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