Angel Lax • Allstate Insurance Co • 510-634-1171
While organizing homes and offices, we are often asked what kind of documentation is needed in case of a loss. So, we asked our friendly Allstate Insurance Agent, Angel Lax, for her help. Here is her advice…
Document Your Belongings
- A quick video showing the contents of the house, including closets and basements. In clothes closet, show tags on designer clothes. Save this to the cloud via email, google drive, Dropbox, even a flash drive in your Safe deposit box. Update regularly.
- Special items: make sure your insurance agent knows of valuables such as jewelry, fine art, musical instruments or collectibles. If your homeowner’s policy has limits on these items you may need an additional policy or rider. If you don’t call out these more valuable items (“scheduled” in insurance language) you’re limited on reimbursement.
- If you don’t have a list of lost items, the company will give you ~70%, depending on the company, of the “personal property limits” listed on your policy. Most of the time, that will be less than if you have good documentation of what you lost.
Organize Your Documents
Create an “insurance” file either in paper or digitally or both
- Include the name of the company
- Named insured
- Policy number
- For big-ticket items, note serial numbers and take a picture of the receipts to keep with insurance documents
Review Your Coverage
Make sure you are covered appropriately…have you contacted your agent in the last year or two? The agent will evaluate the value of your home, based on the size, condition and quality of your components. The quality ranges from economy to standard to above standard to high end. This rating informs the amount of coverage you need to replace. For older homes, some companies encourage a 150% replacement cost plan which covers you in case you need to bring items up to code in the event of a loss. Or, if there is a pricing surge, like there has been in Sonoma and Napa counties, the extra percentage can alleviate that challenge…or if there has been an error in evaluating the value of the replacement.
Use this opportunity to re-acquaint yourself with your things and maybe clear out a closet or two. Even if you only do a few of the items above or only manage to inventory some of your rooms you’ll be better off than not taking any action – progress is better than perfection!
Let’s have a show of hands. Who loves to prepare for disasters and contemplate death?
…We didn’t think so.
Let’s have another show of hands. Who thinks of others and would like to make life easier on family and friends?
Here is a simple project to prepare for the unexpected. Regardless of the state of the rest of your house, these are the documents to keep organized and accessible just in case:
- Life or disability insurance policies and/or agent contact information. Don’t forget to include any coverage offered through your employer and/or auto insurance.
- List of assets and open accounts – you can gather sample statements or create a list of all accounts, loans, lines of credit, etc.. Make sure to include the safe deposit box key and information.
- Trust Document and/or name of your attorney
- Healthcare Directive and Financial POA
- Passwords and log-ins to unlock the phone or computer
- Medical cards and list of doctors/caregivers
- List of prescriptions
- Vital Records: Birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage certificates, copies of drivers licenses
- If you own a business, who are the key contacts? What is your emergency plan?
- Funeral arrangements
Whether you are partnered or not, identify the person or persons who would be tasked with managing things in your absence and share with them the locations of these documents. It’s ideal to also keep a digital copy of these items and make sure your trusted helper has access to those as well.
Think of how much easier it will be for your loved ones, and better for you, if in the time of crisis they don’t have to dig through various drawers and files looking for information unsure what they may be missing. Creating a simple system for just in case is the kind of gift that provides peace of mind to you and to those who are left to take care of business when you can’t.
Filed under Business Organizing, Decluttering, General Organizing, home organizing, middle-age, organizing, Paper, paper organizing, Perspective, Seniors, Strategies
If you’re still getting these in paper form they are likely clogging up your filing system … or creating piles!
Pay stubs – They are informational only. When you get your pay stub each period, check it over to make sure your vacation, sick balance and other deductions are accurate. If all is okay, you don’t need to keep it. Your W-2 form at the end of the year is the only record to keep for taxes. If you need written evidence of accrued benefits, keep your last pay stub of the year. That would have your year-to-date accumulations. If you get electronic paystubs, then for sure, shred the archived ones from long ago.
Expired insurance policies – once the term is over, the policy isn’t valid. Having a claim or loss in the previous period, might justify keeping it. But most folks don’t have this issue and old policy statements can be tossed (shredded) when they expire. You’ll be surprised how many years back these bulky documents go. Hit all the categories – auto, home, life, umbrella, etc.
Monthly investment statements and activity confirmation statements. Once you receive the quarterly or annual statement, these documents are redundant.
BONUS! Banks and credit companies CYA privacy policies and term sheets. Have you ever had to refer to these in the lifetime of your credit card or account? They could trigger you to update your privacy settings with the institution (online or in writing) but if you know you will never get around to it, just let them go. All these are available online.
Give yourself the gift of a clear desk or roomy files by removing things that just make you feel unsure and guilty. If you truly can’t imagine letting these items go, get them in a box (labeled, with a “date to destroy” in a reasonable amount of time) and store them far away from your active work space.