Good Financial Planning Includes Protecting Your Valuables

By Mike Peterson
In July 22, 2014

It’s stressful enough when fire, theft, or severe weather takes away a family’s belongings. But that scenario gets considerably worse if the family was under-insured or their lost items included critical family documents and records.

 

That’s why it’s important to take steps now to protect your valuables and cushion yourselves from some of the financial repercussions that come with life’s disasters.

 

Want to make sure that your valuable possessions are protected? Here are a few simple suggestions to get you started.

 

Document your household items with digital photos. If you need to make a claim with your insurance company, whether you have homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance, you’ll need to provide proof of what you owned. A digital inventory of your belongings can be invaluable here.

 

Items to include:

  • Jewelry
  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Antiques
  • China, silver, and crystal
  • Antiques and collectables
  • Musical instruments
  • Camera equipment
  • Paintings and sculpture
  • Furs, leather products and other valuable clothing

 

Be sure to update your documentation regularly (maybe once or twice a year) to include new purchases, gifts, and inheritances.

 

Store your photos online. Once you’ve taken photos, it’s critical that you keep them somewhere they can’t be harmed by fire, flood, or any other disaster. You can email the photos to yourself or your spouse; you can even use an online photo album or cloud storage system. Any digital storage solution will work fine.

 

Keep track of the details. Whenever possible, supplement your photos of your valuables with records of their purchase. Hang onto your receipts. When applicable, it may be helpful to write down information such as the item’s model year and serial number. Don’t forget to keep similar records of your online purchases – keep digital copies of all receipts, as well as any emails with relevant purchase information.

 

Don’t forget your important papers. Keep originals in a safe deposit box or fireproof/waterproof box. It’s also wise to scan your documents and store them online with your photos.

 

Documents to protect include:

  • Vital records: birth, marriage, divorce, adoption, custody, and death certificates
  • Passports, driver’s license, and other forms of identification
  • Social security cards
  • Property records, mortgages, leases
  • Tax records, pay stubs, bank and investment papers
  • Home and property leases, deeds, mortgages, and records
  • Legal titles
  • Insurance policies
  • Wills, living wills, power of attorney
  • Medical records and lists of prescriptions
  • Debit/credit card numbers
  • Home and bank safe deposit information
  • Records of passwords and keywords
  • Family photos, religious documents, and mementos

 

Review your coverage. Some of your belongings will require an insurance rider, and possibly an appraisal, for you to be properly reimbursed if they’re lost or destroyed. A rider, also known as an endorsement, generally covers valuables that wouldn’t be fully covered under a standard policy.

 

Items that could need a rider include:

  • Jewelry
  • Fine art
  • Silverware
  • Antiques and collectibles
  • Business equipment
  • Photography equipment
  • China, silver, porcelain, and crystal
  • Musical instruments

 

You should talk to your insurance agent about your valuables and what steps you’ll need to take for each of them. It’s also important to make sure you understand your property insurance, what it does and doesn’t cover, and the extent of your coverage.

 

Know what isn’t covered. In addition to knowing what your insurance covers, it’s equally important to understand what may not be covered. For example, your property insurance does not cover flood damage. You need to buy separate coverage for protection in that area, and it takes one month for the coverage to go into effect.

 

It’s a little unnerving talking about what-ifs and planning for worst-case scenarios, but taking these steps now can help protect you and your family from even more difficulties if disaster strikes.

 

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.