Has your passion outgrown your home insurance?
Tamara E. Holmes
All homeowners should create an inventory of their possessions in case they suffer a disaster that warrants replacement of those items. But for those who have personal passions that inspire frequent purchases, extra care should be taken to make sure home insurance coverage truly reflects their changing needs.
“A home inventory can go a long way in helping to put your home back together after a loss,” says Stephanie Sheppard, a spokeswoman for Allstate. “It can help consumers talk with their agent to make sure they have the appropriate insurance coverage for their specific needs.”
While many Americans can get away with updating the list once a year, some Americans – such as foodies, fashionistas and techies – should take a more proactive approach or it literally could cost them thousands of dollars.
|If you’re a fashionista whose closets are stuffed with designer clothes, you may need to reassess your home insurance.|
According to a survey conducted in 2010 by American Express, foodies spend an average of $2,447 for appliances and other food-related items each year. Fashionistas aren’t far behind, spending an average of $1,329 each year. Techies average $1,444 a year.
Still, nearly half of Americans — including foodies, fashionistas and techies — don’t have a home inventory, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The lack of a home inventory can cost hobbyists a lot of money and anguish following a disaster.
Breaking down the costs
It’s not unusual for foodies to spend a lot to keep up with the latest appliances, says Babette Pepaj, founder of online cooking community BakeSpace.com. “I invest in new appliances every two to four years, but with so many cool new gadgets coming out, it’s sometimes hard to resist a new purchase,” she says.
Such purchases aren’t just for show. “I have members on BakeSpace.com who use their slow cookers, mixers and food processors every single day,” Pepaj says. “They would definitely be upset to lose one or more of these trusted kitchen helpers in a disaster.”
The same holds true for those who are enamored with fashion. “My clothing is extremely important to me,” says Sarah Gleeson, a blogger who shares her style and fashion sense with readers of her blog, ravingfashionista.com. “I recently moved, and actually wrapped each heeled shoe individually before packing them into boxes to avoid scuffs and scrapes,” she says.
With a closet full of items ranging from basics like T-shirts and tights to trendy statement dresses and sky-high heels, “let’s just say it would be difficult to go a full month without making any purchases,” Gleeson says.
As a self-described techie, Justin Germino blogs about technology, gaming and entertainment at his site, dragonblogger.com. To ensure that he keeps up with the latest trends, he makes tech purchases every six to 12 months, he estimates, and owns such equipment as computers, LCD TVs and smartphones. “Eighty percent of my daily non-sleeping activity is revolved around some technology,” he says.
Putting safeguards in place
The key to ensuring that insurance coverage is adequate for a personal passion is to make sure the inventory is accurate. “For my tech stuff, I keep all of the user’s manuals in a folder in my office,” Germino says. Although Germino acknowledges that he’d have to rely on memory if that folder burned up, “it is a good idea for someone to document their products, brands and the value for insurance records,” he says.
|Take note, techies: A thorough home inventory — including your gadgets — can save time and prevent hassles if you have to file an insurance claim.|
Not only should the inventory include the names of the items you own, but it’s probably wise to include photos and videos of possessions as well, Allstate suggests. For bloggers who post photos of their possessions, this can be a simple step that’s added to the blogging process. Any notes about an item’s cost or the quantity of a particular item also can be helpful.
If you haven’t shared your personal passion with your insurance agent, make a quick phone call to do so, since you may be amassing items whose value exceeds the coverage on your insurance policy. In that case, a rider — or attachment to your policy that amends the terms — could provide coverage above the initial policy’s amount.
Depending upon what your passion is, your policy may have limits that affect you. For example, a fashionista who regularly adorns herself with expensive new jewelry may exceed the $2,500 or $5,000 coverage limit for jewelry that’s common for home insurance policies. A rider would add coverage in that case.
For some bloggers and others who’ve turned their personal passion into a business venture, it might make sense to explore whether they need business insurance, says Jim Swegle, vice president of product management at Safeco Insurance in Seattle.
Technology can make updating an inventory easy, particularly for those who buy valuable items frequently. For example, Allstate’s Digital Locker app for the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ MyHOME Scr.APP.book app for the iPhone walk users through the cataloging process.
The bottom line is ensuring that possessions are safe. “As a fashion blogger, my clothes play a significant role in my daily life,” Gleeson says. If Gleeson lost her clothes in a disaster, “I would certainly be devastated,” she says.