The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 28, 2013

ARE WE READY: Paperwork critical after a storm

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — You see them everyday: Items throughout your residence that you’ve accumulated over the years and use daily.

But what if your home is in a shambles, partially damaged or even destroyed by a strong Midwestern storm? Could you remember what you owned?

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, that is the problem faced by many residents who fall victim to severe weather across the country.

A survey conducted by the NAIC in early 2012 indicated as many as half of Americans don’t keep an inventory of their possessions as a precaution in case of storm damage.

The Illinois Department of Insurance recommends that individuals record model and serial numbers for more expensive items such as televisions, DVRs and computers as well as keeping receipts for these items. The receipts provide purchase price, purchase date, store name and other details.

Other options include taking a video recording or pictures inside your home to document your possessions, according to the state department.

The NAIC survey said that without appropriate documentation, a person can receive inadequate home insurance coverage.

The survey indicated 59 percent of consumers have not made a list or inventory of their possessions. But even of those individuals with a home inventory, 48 percent did not have receipt and 27 percent did not have photo documentation of their property.

In addition, 28 percent do not have a back-up copy of the inventory outside the home, a point the state’s department of insurance stresses.

Tornado season in Illinois generally runs from March through May, although the destructive storms can take place at any time of year when warm moist air meets with advancing cold fronts.

In 2011, severe weather disasters across the country caused more than $43 billion in damage.

In addition to an inventory of possessions, the Illinois Department of Insurance suggests residents who are the victim of severe weather contact an insurance company as soon as possible and attempt to provide as much detail about damage to the property, both inside and out.

With regard to damage, residents should take photos of the situation before beginning to clean up after a storm. In addition, any and all bills and receipts from repairs should be kept.