Dr. Mary Ann Campbell, CFP® = "Dr. MAC"

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Super Storm Hurricane Sandy Home Inventory

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Overwhelmingly destructive, super storm Hurricane Sandy has left millions of homes and businesses without power and flooded over the past two days.  Backup generators are failing.  Extreme wind gusts have made fires wild and harsh.

Fortunately sophisticated weather detection systems gave early warning to citizens that a major storm was coming and for those in the path to evacuate.   Yet, first responders are now having difficulty getting to people who didn’t evacuate and need rescue.

What can we learn and do to be better prepared in such a disaster?   When Mother Nature gets really crazy, it’s important to focus on safety of life and limb and get to safer ground whenever possible.  You might think of family and friends and discuss an escape plan should the need arise.  Make a list of things you’d want to take with you so you’ll be able to leave quickly and make sure you have needed medical prescriptions and health aids.  Developing a notebook of names, phone numbers, and services you depend on is also a good idea so that you might grab it as you go out the door.

A personal property inventory is not only a good way to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage on your contents, but also helps you remember items you might overlook in a claim.  Homeinsurance.com offers an electronic checklist you can complete on your computer.   Microsoft offers free templates online for a home inventory checklist.  The IRS will mail you a casualty, disaster, and theft loss workbook; publication #584 to be completed by hand.  Call 800-829-3676 (FORM) to have a copy or copies mailed to you.  You may also download and print a copy of Form 584 from www.IRS.gov

Completing a home inventory can be tedious.  Consider enlisting a family member or friend to assist you.  Take pictures from opposite sides of the room and remember to open doors and drawers and make still pictures or videos of contents.   Listing serial numbers is critical if theft is involved.  Reclaiming property from a police station requires more than a description.  You’ll need to have your serial number.  If you take pictures or videos of your personal property, zero in for close ups of serial numbers. 

Storing your home inventory list in a location not in your home is vital.  Store your list in “the cloud” a backup system that goes to another location, on your computer; in a safety deposit box, with a family member or a trusted friend. 

With total property loss in a disaster, you don’t get your property back, but you can be financially restored.  The better job you do documenting your property, the stronger your financial restoration.

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