Wooden building structure is fully engulfed in flames during fire department practice burn training.

It’s not something you have probably even thought about, and having thought about it, you probably don’t see the need to be able to remember everything you own! However, as insurance brokers, we see more than most what the effects of a severe loss can be. A fire, or a large theft can often leave clients unsure about exactly what has been lost. Items of jewellery that aren’t worn that often, or a garage mechanic may have tools they have collected over many years. We know from experience that it’s often the case that people struggle to recall every single item they may have lost.

It’s often only at time of a large loss that you really start to appreciate what things are worth! As you start to add everything up, the total can reach alarming figures, and the possibility of being underinsured may become a reality, with the subsequent negotiations with insurers becoming an added problem you could do without.

How to get the right insurance to cover your loss

With virtually everyone now having access to a camera on their phone, it’s very easy to spend just a small amount of time taking some photos of the things you own. If that’s in your house, take photos of each room just to remind you what is in there, and also perhaps take photos of those items of jewellery or other specific high value contents you have – without the photo, could you remember everything you own? Insurers may ask for proof of ownership and this is where a photo can really help.

If you are a business, take pictures of your equipment, and make sure employees take photos of any specialist tools they use. Open tool boxes and take photos of the contents, you may be thankful you did. Ensure you do regular stock takes and keep the records somewhere safe away from the premises.

Whilst you are doing this, just make a note of values. How much would it cost to replace the contents of a wardrobe? Shirts, suits, shoes, handbags etc. Be honest, they can add up, and you will want to replace them if they are damaged in a fire. Smoke can get everywhere. Do a walk round your home or business and assess what the true sum insured should be if you had to replace everything. It’s worth noting also that the majority of insurance policies work on the basis that the sum insured needs to reflect the cost of replacing as new.

You hope that a claim is never going to happen, but if it does, you’ll be glad you spent a little bit of time beforehand making things as easy as possible for your insurers to get you back to where you were.

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