By Steve Viola with Viola Insurance Services, Inc.

Have you ever had to file an insurance claim? It can be a difficult process for both the policyholder and the claims adjuster. I know firsthand. I’ve been on both sides. I started my insurance career fresh out of college as a claims adjuster. Tough job. I can’t begin to guess how many claims I handled. They all run together, except for one. It was my first total fire loss. I can remember the pain and heartache of the policyholder. Thankfully no one was hurt, but she lost all of her personal property. Everything. The claim process went as smoothly as it could go, but she didn’t have any records or documentation of what she lost. She couldn’t even remember everything she had lost. She was in shock.

I haven’t thought of that claim for years. That was until a client of mine called last week to tell me that, within one week, his uncle had a house fire and a close friend suffered a complete fire loss to his business. As we talked, my mind slowly drifted back to that fire loss over 20 years ago. Amazing how your mind can remember the most minor details. I can still picture her coffee pot in the corner of the kitchen melted from heat. It looked like something you would find in a contemporary art exhibit.

What would happen if this happened to your home? Can you visualize every room and write down every item in each? What about the closets, basement and attic? If you are lucky, you will accurately remember 50% of the items. What about the value of each item? Do you have receipts for the “big ticket” items?

Filing an insurance claim without receipts, documentation and a trace of evidence that your possessions ever existed can add a lot of stress to an already stressful situation.

So, while this is the time of year we’re reminded to “take stock” of all we are grateful for, I would like to recommend you also take time to make a home inventory. One can be created in many ways:

~ Online Home Inventory software is available at no cost at from the Insurance Information Institute.

~ Videotape and make a list of the contents of your home and their value, then save to a file hosting service ( is my favorite) or save it on a flash drive and put it in your safe deposit box.

Whatever process you use, the important thing is to do it! A household inventory not only makes it easier to settle your insurance claim, but also helps you determine if you have the right type and amount of insurance for your home and its contents.

The one big takeaway?

Take some time to make your home inventory and then compare with your current homeowner’s policy and determine if it meets your needs. Send me an email with the subject line “Taking Stock” and I’ll forward you a quick and easy spreadsheet you can use to help get started.

Steve Viola, CPCU
Viola Insurance Services, Inc.

Sponsored by Viola Insurance Services, Inc.