BILOXI, Miss. -- Before hurricane season begins, homeowners and renters should make an inventory of all the items in their homes, according to state and federal officials.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Insurance Department remind owners and renters that providing a complete home inventory to their insurance agent should help them get a policy that covers their risk more completely. In addition, an inventory can help provide proof of personal property loss after a disaster.
The Insurance Information Institute's Web site www.knowyourstuff.org includes videos describing the steps of a home inventory, as well as free software to assist in beginning and updating the list.
For those who are just setting up a household, starting a home inventory can be relatively simple. But for those who have lived in a house for many years, this task may seem daunting. By setting aside an afternoon and getting the whole family involved, it can be an enjoyable experience. It is much easier to document possessions before suffering a loss from a fire, burglary or natural disaster.
Government and insurance industry officials also recommend taking photos of the outside of a home in addition to all contents, and to store these photos together with the inventory list in a safe place away from the house.
"A complete inventory, including photos, may be one of the most valuable investments for peace of mind anyone can make for themselves and their families," said Dennis Kizziah, acting director for FEMA's Mississippi Transitional Recovery Office. "If something happens to damage homes and property, an inventory will eliminate the need to piece that information together in the aftermath."
Some owners may be required to have both hazard and flood insurance, each available commercially. To find a local agent who sells flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov. The purchase of flood insurance for a structure without covering the contents as well is a common mistake.
Renters should also consider both hazard and flood insurance to protect personal belongings.
Standard hazard policies may require additional riders for items such as collectibles, jewelry, firearms and art work.
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 survivors on the road to recovery.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.