As the holiday season is in full swing, most families are not thinking about insurance. But as the year comes to an end, it’s a good idea to conduct a home inventory and year-end insurance policy review. This is the best way to make sure that your home and possessions have the insurance protection they need.
“The end of the year is a great time to sit down and review the contents of your home and review your insurance policy,” said Insurance Commissioner Scott J. Kipper. “During the holidays, many families purchase big-ticket items such as jewelry, computers, tablets and televisions, and it’s important for them to make sure that they have enough insurance coverage to protect these expensive items.”
The first step is to make a home inventory. Document all of your belongings and be sure to include home improvement items, electronics and other specialty items, like jewelry. It is helpful to take photos or make a video of all your belongings and set up a file to store receipts for purchased items.
The Nevada Division of Insurance has resources available on its website to help homeowners and renters. A home inventory checklist can be downloaded, as well as the free myHOME Scr.APP.book app for iPhone and Android. The app guides the user through making an inventory and storing it electronically for safekeeping. Visit doi.nv.gov/consumer.aspx to download these resources.
After you’ve completed your home inventory, call your insurance agent or company and ask for an “annual policy review.” During the review, disclose the contents of your home inventory and ask if the current insurance coverage is adequate. It’s a good idea to review your insurance policy and declarations page which shows your coverage levels before calling.
Questions to ask during your policy review:
– Have any changes have been made to the coverage levels since the last renewal; if so, by whom and why?
– Is the coverage for replacement cost or actual cash value? Replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after deducting for depreciation.
– Some valuables require special coverage. Tell your agent about any big ticket items such as electronics, jewelry, fine art or off highway vehicles and ask if you need special coverage.
– Ask what risks are covered and what are excluded. Some policies only cover “named perils” while other policies provide broader coverage. Make sure you are comfortable with the perils your policy covers and excludes.
– Flood and earthquake damage is not typically covered by a standard home or renters policy. Nevada is the fourth most earthquake-prone state in the country, and damage from an earthquake is excluded from most policies. Your current insurance carrier may offer earthquake or flood coverage for an additional premium; ask your agent or insurance company to help you evaluate your options.
– Be aware that your home insurance does not protect your car from damage, even if it is parked in your garage when it sustains damage. Damage to your car will only be covered by the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy.
– If you are a renter, and you do have renters insurance, you should also conduct a home inventory and policy review.
– If you are a renter and you don’t have renters insurance you should consider purchasing it. Your landlord’s insurance will generally protect the structure but not your belongings. Renters insurance is inexpensive and typically protects your possessions from all the perils that traditional home insurance would.
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Insurance can be confusing. To help consumers better understand their coverage, the Nevada Division of Insurance has written three guides regarding home insurance to assist consumers: the Nevada Consumer’s Guide to Home Insurance, Nevada Consumer’s Guide to Flood Insurance and the Nevada Consumer’s Guide to Earthquake Insurance. These guides can be found online at doi.nv.gov/consumer.aspx.
Content by the Nevada Division of Insurance
The State of Nevada Division of Insurance is a division of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry. It is the state agency that protects the rights of Nevada consumers and regulates Nevada’s $11.6 billion insurance industry. It has offices in Carson City and Las Vegas. In 2011, the Division investigated nearly 2,000 consumer complaints and recovered a record $6.7 million on behalf of consumers. For more information about the Division of Insurance, visit DOI.NV.GOV.