On the morning of Nov. 24, 2007, Brad Stanley and his wife Anita watched as their home in Malibu, Calif., burned to the ground. They were not alone. More than 50 other homes were destroyed in the wildfire. With everything they owned now gone, the family had to start to process of documenting their losses to file for an insurance claim.
"I was under the impression that I had insurance and they would just cut me a check," he recalls. Not so fast. Even for homeowners with good insurance policies, a claim is only as strong as the inventory list. The Stanleys realized that their own records simply were not accurate enough to cover the true cost of what they had lost.
Filing an insurance claim after a disaster hits your home requires a very detailed list of all your belongings. This includes not only big-ticket receipts, but smaller things that are often overlooked, such as cutlery in the kitchen, bedsheets or the clothes in your dresser. All these items add up in the thousands of dollars as part of what your insurance claim will pay.
With thousands of homes devastated this spring by natural disaster, the importance of record-keeping has never been more important.