Category Archives: Home Inventory

Orlando Bloom, $500K Theft and Insurance

Orlando Bloom’s home was broken into and it’s reported  that he lost up to $500,000 of jewelry, cash and artwork.  We hope he has a home inventory and riders to cover these items. 

Be sure you have enough insurance coverage for a theft, fire or disaster.  Two years ago, after doing an article on insurance, we realized our home insurance policy didn’t reflect the home’s value. 

What does that mean?

Essentially, if our house had burned, we had only enough insurance coverage to rebuild 1/3 of it.  This is because we didn’t tell State Farm about remodels, updates and new items we’d purchased.  State Farm thought it was still the ‘old’ house and had it at the ‘old’ house value.

Many agents don’t do an annual ‘check-up’ to be sure home/property/belongings are properly covered. If you’ve recently added to your home, improved or remodeled, contact your agent for a check-up. Don’t know how to do this? No worries – here are some starter questions for you to ask your insurance agent.

– Susan

Home Break In – Tips from a Theft Survivor (1 of 2)

Here’s a real life home theft experience sent into us from Elizabeth.

Coming home after a family event, she and her husband found a door open and realized that they’d been broken into.

After her experience, Elizabeth has 10 great tips to pass along.

  1. Be sure to have a home inventory list!  They had one and it made figuring out what was missing much, much easier.
  2. After the break-in, don’t touch anything!
  3. Call the police.  Crime scene experts arrived on the scene and dusted for prints.
  4. Call your insurance agent.  Be sure to check your policy to see the conditions of depreciative and replacement value.  It can always help in advance if you’ve done your homework on insurance riders.
  5. Consult your home inventory list, and make a list of specifically those items that are missing.

Elizabeth has five more tips coming so you know what to do in case your home is broken into.

– Susan

Rainy Days

2230205.JPGHere in Minneapolis it has rained everyday this week and it seems the pattern is going to continue well into next week. Rain, rain go away!

If you’re stuck inside this weekend due to bad weather or really hot weather, here are a few activities you could easily tackle in an afternoon:

1. Do a home inventory! We do say it a lot but it’s the number one thing you can do to financially prepare for disasters. We’ve made it super easy to get started. Learn how…

2. Make emergency information cards. Handy for sleepovers and easy to slip into briefcases and backpacks, these little cards can help in an emergency situation.

3. Get a head start on birthday and wedding gifts. For bridal showers, a wedding day emergency kit is an inexpensive yet practical gift. For birthdays, get something your loved ones may not think to buy for themselves – emergency preparedness items like weather radios, flashlights and first aid kits. Click on the corresponding links for lists to print out and take with you as you shop.

4. Do some maintenance work on your cars, bikes and motorcycles. Regular maintenance is key to accident prevention.

5. Order your free credit report. This’ll help you spot identity theft before it’s too late.

Have a fantastic weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday!

Are You Ready for a Disaster?

Our local CBS TV station WCCO has been busy covering the aftermath of this weekend’s tornadoes in Hugo, MN, and for last night’s Good Question feature segment, reporter Jason DeRusha asked the tough question: Are You Ready for a Disaster?

Our publisher, Susan Evans, was interviewed for the segment and she offered some great home inventory tips: see the video here.

Thanks to Jason DeRusha and all of the team at WCCO!

Garage Sale Season

You know summertime is officially here when garage sales start. As you clean out your garages, closets, car trunks and so on, think of it as a great opportunity to also do a home inventory.

What’s a home inventory? It’s a complete list of all your possessions which can come in handy for insurance claims after a major loss, theft, fire or disaster. One handy way is to grab a video camera and film each room, one-by-one.

Here are additional great tips on how to get started (give it a try)!

  • When videotaping your home for a home inventory, “consumers should take video inside each room of their home and stand in the middle, turning in a circle to get everything,” says Stephen Hadhazi, publisher of
  • “Take close up shots above door ways and windows on the inside of the home, also take good video of the brick veneer around exterior windows. What you are doing is documenting that it wasn’t damaged prior to the storm.
  • “Taking the short amount of time to video tape these things (with the time/date stamp turned on) will potentially help get tens of thousands of dollars per home paid additional to what the person would have received had they not documented the fact that the home was not damaged prior to the storm.”
  • More: Easy Guide to Home Inventory

Spring Cleaning Series: Day #2

Welcome back! It’s Day 2 of our week-long spring cleaning series. (Read Day #1 here!)

Spring cleaning can be a lot more than just cleaning out closets and putting winter items away: how about “cleaning” and organizing your financial house as well!

Pick a topic below and get started!


Having adequate coverage is key, just in case the unexpected occurs. You never know when Mother Nature might cause a slight disruption in your life, so get ready!

1. How much is your home worth? Do you have enough insurance on your home to rebuild it if it is destroyed? Do you even know how to calculate the amount of insurance you need? Learn how to estimate your home’s value.

2. Am I covered? The more you know and understand about home insurance, the better you can insure yourself and your family in case of loss. Top questions to ask your agent…

3. Get extra coverage. Did you know that most home owner’s insurance policies only cover about $1000 worth of electronics and only $1500 worth of jewelry? Look into extra riders to make sure your possessions are protected…

4. Review your policy. There are about five key events that should trigger a review. The first one is…


1. Start an emergency fund. Unexpected medical bills, disasters, even car accidents – you should have a pool of money set aside for these little speed bumps of life. Learn how to get started…

2. Do a home inventory. It’s like “found money” – it can help you make your case to the insurance companies when filing a claim after a loss, theft or natural disasters. Learn more…

3. Write a will and name beneficiaries for major policies. Take care of your finances for your loved ones before it’s too late. Start today.

That’s Day 2! Check back tomorrow for tips on how to prep your home for the spring severe weather season ahead. Have a tip? Post it in the Comments section below!

Save Money and Plan for the Unexpected

One of my favorite bloggers, Trent of The Simple Dollar, has a great list of 100 little steps you can take to save money. I listed my favorite six tips here – visit his site for the rest!

Car Maintenance

24. Clean your car’s air filter. A clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by up to 7%, saving you more than $100 for every 10,000 miles you drive in an average vehicle. Plus, cleaning your air filter is easy to do in just a few minutes – just follow the instructions in your automobile’s manual and you’re good to go.

61. Air up your tires. For every two PSI that all of your tires are below the recommended level, you lose 1% on your gas mileage. Most car tires are five to ten PSI below the normal level, so that means by just airing up your tires, you can improve your gas mileage by up to 5%. It’s easy, too. Just read your car’s manual to see what the recommended tire pressure is, then head to the gas station. Ask the attendant inside if they have a tire air gauge you can borrow (most of them do, both in urban and rural settings), then stop over by the air pump. Check your tires, then use the pump to fill them up to where they should be. It’s basically free gas!

Identity Theft

35. Remove your credit card numbers from your online accounts. It’s easy to spend online when you have your card information stored in an account – just click and buy. The best way to break this habit is to simply delete your card from the account. That way, when you’re tempted to spend, you’ll be forced to spend the time to dig out your card – and really think about why you’re spending this money. (And it could prevent identity theft!)

Child Care

36. Give a gift of a service instead of an item. For new parents, give an evening of babysitting as a gift. If you know pet owners, offer to take care of their pets when they travel. Offer up some lawn care as a gift to a new homeowner. These are always spectacular gifts for anyone – I know that, as a parent of a toddler and an infant, I love receiving a babysitting gift, probably more than any “stuff” I might receive.

50. Swap babysitting with neighbors.…Try to find another set of parents or two that you trust, and swap nights of babysitting with them. That way, you’ll get occasional evenings free without the cost of a babysitter, saving you some scratch.

Home Inventory

39. Reevaluate the stuff in the rooms in your house. Go into a room and go through every single item in it. Do you really need that item? Are you happy that it’s there, or would you be just fine if it were not? If you can find stuff to get rid of, get rid of it – it just creates clutter and it might have some value to others. You also improve the perceived value of your house – and you’re likely to get a lot of cleaning done in the process. It’s a frugal win-win-win. (While you’re at it, do a home inventory of the stuff you’re keeping!!)

Source: The Simple Dollar

Part Two – Insurance Riders: Do I Need One?

This is the second half of the article “Insurance Riders: Do I Need One” written by our guest insurance blogger, Stephen Hadhazi. Missed the first part? Read it here!

What’s the difference between replacement cost value and actual cash value? Does it really matter what coverage I have on my home owner’s policy? Stephen Hadhazi, a certified public insurance adjuster, tackles the answers to these very questions:

Personal Property Limits

The contents of your home are generally insured for 50% to 75% of the total dwelling limits. If you carry $100,000 of insurance on your home, you may have personal property coverage of $50,000 to $75,000 depending on your policy’s provisions. Is it enough?

Further, depending on the type of replacement coverage you carry, the contents of your home could be dramatically underinsured. There is a huge difference between Replacement Cost Value endorsement which will replace your possessions with brand new, like-kind items and Actual Cash Value, which depreciates the possessions and pays only a fraction of their original cost.

In many cases, however, the term Replacement Cost Value reimbursement can be a slight misnomer both on personal property and structural claims. Nationally, many Replacement Cost Policies state that they will pay only the Actual Cash Value until such time replacement has been completed and you send them proof of the replacement.

Under such circumstances, you should also be aware that reimbursement of the full depreciated amount is also contingent on you spending at least the amount of the replacement cost amount allowed by your insurance company.

For example, you filed a claim for damage to a five year old sofa and your insurance company allowed a Replacement Cost Value (RCV) of $2000. You agree that the average useful life expectancy of the sofa would be ten years. The adjuster then depreciates the sofa at the rate of 50% leaving you an Actual Cash Value (ACV) of $1000.

The adjuster then writes you a check for $1000 and then tells you that you have a certain amount of time, usually 6-12 months, to replace the sofa and file for reimbursement of the $1000 they held back in depreciation under the Replacement Cost benefits of your policy. You then find a suitable replacement couch on sale for $1,500.

You eagerly send in your receipt to your insurance company expecting to receive the $1000 they held back in depreciation. However, you’re also limited by what you actually spent for replacement so instead you get a check from your insurance company for an additional $500 with a thank you note for saving them $500.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of Stephen’s article, complete with a list of personal property limits for most policies.

Apartment Checklist

On Friday I wrote about the top four things apartment dwellers should do when they move into a new place. I’ve just moved into an apartment and turns out I didn’t accomplish everything on that list over the weekend!

#1: I do have renter’s insurance but need to check my coverage.

#2: I’m still short a fire extinguisher, however, I do have a flashlight, smoke alarm, a small first aid kit, canned food and extra water. Next step is to put key items together in a box so I can grab them in a hurry. And purchase a weather radio!

#3: I didn’t write down an escape plan but I thought about it. I’ve got windows in every room and just outside the windows is the roof of a row of businesses which I could climb on to, plus I’ve spotted the only two entrances of the building.

#4: I haven’t done a home inventory of everything in my apartment, but I have taken a picture and written down the serial number and details of my laptop. Next step would be to take pictures of each room.

Life gets busy. But you also never know when a disaster might happen – after all, tornadoes and fires don’t make appointments. Pick at least one task to do today and get started!

Just moved in? Lived in an apartment for a while? Share your tips in the Comments section below!

Home Inventory: Tips from the Inside

We’re working on a few stories on dealing with damages and insurance claims after a storm – and instead of making you wait for the published articles, I just had to share a few tips with you right now! Yes, they’re that good!!

I spoke with Stephen Hadhazi, a public insurance adjuster in Houston, TX, and the publisher of (Click here to learn more about his site.) He offered up some of the best tips I’ve heard about conducting a home inventory:

  • When videotaping your home for a home inventory, Stephen says “consumers should take video inside each room of their home and stand in the middle, turning in a circle to get everything.”
  • Take close up shots above door ways and windows on the inside of the home, also take good video of the brick veneer around exterior windows. What you are doing is documenting that it wasn’t damaged prior to the storm.”
  • “If someone lives in a pier & beam style home (home on blocks) rather than on a concrete slab, it could be useful to videotape someone holding a level to the foundation showing that the house was level.”
  • “One of the most trying experiences following a hurricane is when the adjuster tells you that he believes like the cracking around the doors or windows is just ‘settling’ which is excluded under the policy,” says Stephen.
  • “Taking the short amount of time to video tape these things (with the time/date stamp turned on) will potentially help get tens of thousands of dollars per home paid additional to what the person would have received had they not documented the fact that the home was not damaged prior to the storm.”

Thanks to Stephen and!

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