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Home inventory can aid disaster recovery
Hearing about people's woes created by Superstorm Sandy underscores the importance of having a home inventory for a Stafford County professional organizer.

Date published: 1/13/2013


Superstorm Sandy drove home the importance of having a home inventory for Linda Clevenger.

The Stafford County professional organizer always tells her clients how important it is to document everything in their homes in case disaster strikes.

But the value of having such a document was brought into sharp focus after hearing a client relate stories of the devastation that her relatives and their neighbors on Long Island experienced when the storm surge hit.

Some had nothing left except for what was on the top floor of their homes, said Clevenger, who helped gather clothing, toys and household goods for her client to take to them in her RV.

Residents of that area had flood insurance because it was required, she said, but it didn't cover personal belongings such as clothing, electronics and furniture unless they had paid an additional fee to add content coverage to their policy. Even then, they'd need to be able to show what they'd lost in order to be properly reimbursed.

"If you don't have documentation, [insurance agents] are just going to guess what you have," Clevenger said. "It sets you up for frustration and being overwhelmed and almost depressed. Besides losing everything, now you're told that, 'Unless you have documentation, how can you prove anything?'"

A home inventory is basically a list that includes the name of each item in the home, date purchased or age, purchase price and a description. The latter should include including the make and model number, if applicable.

"Don't put just Sylvania TV, but include the serial number and a picture of it," Clevenger said. "Otherwise, how do you prove that you have a 50-inch TV and not a 32-inch?"

A home inventory can be done using a spreadsheet on paper, Excel on a computer or an online program such as the Insurance Information Institute's free home inventory program at knowyour stuff.org. It could even be part of a Cloud-based filing program such as StuffLogic.

Clevenger, who is getting certified to teach people how to use StuffLogic, also recommends including a receipt and, if an item is particularly valuable, an appraisal, for inventoried items. A video of the home can be helpful as well.

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