FEMA, La. Officials Stress Importance of Home Inventory

March 16, 2006

Now is the time for homeowners and renters to begin the process of starting and maintaining an inventory of all of the items in their homes, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Louisiana Department of Insurance (DOI) said this week.

With a home inventory list, an insurance agent can provide homeowners and renters with a policy that matches their needs. Also, when filing a claim, that inventory can 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 Web site, 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.

According to Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelan, keeping a good inventory of your personal things can be one of your most valuable investments. “As Louisiana’s Insurance Commissioner, I have been saying every spring it is a good idea to keep an itemized inventory, including some kind of pictures, of all the contents of your home, and to keep a copy of that inventory in a safe place away from the house.

“After seeing firsthand what Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did to the homes of so many of our people, I will also say that everyone needs to have pictures of the outside of the home, the comprehensive inventory can be one of the most valuable investments in peace of mind we will ever make for ourselves and our families,” Donelan added. “If a catastrophic event does disrupt our homes and their surroundings, a home inventory will at least eliminate the need to piece that information together in the aftermath of the event.”

Personal property owners and renters should schedule an appointment with an agent to discuss the best way to protect personal property. If your agent has been displaced by the hurricanes, an updated list of insurance agents is available at the DOI Web site: www.ldi.state.laus/hurricanekatrina.htm.

Property owners may require both hazard and flood insurance, each available commercially. Renters should also consider insurance to protect personal belongings. Standard hazard policies may require riders for items such as certain collections, jewelry and damage from sewage back-up.

Disaster assistance from FEMA and other agencies is only designed to get disaster victims on the road to recovery. It cannot provide the extensive protection insurance can.

The U.S. Insurance Industry has created a Web site for consumers with information on insurance policies and referrals to government agencies and other sources of assistance. The Web site address is www.disasterinformation.org/disaster2/home/.

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