LACEY, Wash. -- After this winter's storms, now is the time for homeowners and renters to prepare an inventory of all of the items in their homes, according to state and federal officials.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Washington Emergency Management Division (WEMD) remind people that with a home inventory list, an insurance agent can provide owners and renters with a policy that matches their needs. In addition, after a disaster, an inventory can help provide proof of personal property loss.
The Insurance Information Institute has developed a tool for individuals to use in compiling a home inventory. On its website, www.knowyourstuff.org are videos describing the steps of a home inventory, as well as free software to assist in beginning and updating the list.
Government and industry officials also recommend taking photos of the outside of a home as well as all contents, and to store these photos together with the inventory list in a safe place away from the house.
"The complete inventory, including photos, may be one of the most valuable investments for peace of mind we will ever make for ourselves and our families," said Gail Haubrich, FEMA individual assistance housing supervisor. "If a catastrophic event disrupts our homes and surroundings, a home inventory will eliminate the need to piece that information together in the aftermath of the event."
Property owners and renters should schedule an appointment with an insurance agent to discuss the best way to protect their property.
Property owners may be required to have both hazard and flood insurance, each available commercially. Renters should also consider insurance to protect personal belongings. Standard hazard policies may require additional riders for items such as collectibles, jewelry and/or damage from sewage backup.
Disaster assistance from FEMA and other agencies cannot provide the extensive protection individuals can get from insurance. FEMA assistance is limited and designed primarily to get disaster victims on the road to recovery.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with State and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.