I say whether you meet with an insurance agent or not is up to you, but having a reasonably accurate home inventory in this day of cell phones is really, really easy and quite worthwhile. Just go through your house, take photos of every room from every angle with cupboards and drawers open.
And when you have any particularly valuable item, take several pictures of the item that shows its condition, and also take a picture of the purchase receipt or appraisal. Turn the date/time stamp on with your phone so that it's recorded on each photo.
Back up all these photos up to the cloud and to a thumb drive kept in your safe deposit box or at a friend's house (or in a fire safe).
Why should you do this? Because the insurance company will turn on you like a rabid dog when you suffer a significant loss -- you're no longer their valued policyholder at that point, you're a suspected thief whose word is absolutely not to be trusted (that's how they see it).
Normal people who haven't suffered a big loss are shocked when they find that their formerly oh-so-friendly insurance company (who has been happily taking their premiums all these years) turns sociopathic and paranoid and accuses them of inflating the losses and starts demanding documentation and proof of ownership for every item in the home. Insurers hire battalions of adjusters and train them on how to settle claims for less than they're worth.
Worse, the insurance companies are so rich and powerful that they make banks look like sandlot ballplayers, and most people who have not experienced the ordeal of trying to get fair treatment from an insurance company after a total loss are devastated by the second disaster (the first one is the fire or flooding, the second one is the way the insurers treat insureds if those insureds cannot prove every detail of every bit of every claim).
Essentially, the insurance companies win by shorting policyholders on damage payments, and the whole time while they do it, they are constantly issuing reminders that it's a crime to commit insurance fraud.
Meanwhile, they are all-but unregulated, as they bought themselves immunity from the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act, the statute that lets consumers hold businesses responsible for misconduct in the marketplace. So their conduct isn't even illegal -- it's just what they do.
It's kind of like the situation with campaign finances -- the scandal isn't what's done that's illegal, the scandal is what they do that's perfectly legal. And that you have no very little recourse. The only solution I know of is to hire a lawyer so that you do not have to deal with an insurance company yourself if you have any kind of serious loss -- it's like being fed into a meat grinder if you don't have someone to advocate for you and make the insurance company do what it's supposed to under the contract and the the laws.
I'm not trying to drum up business here, I don't do that kind of work. But that's the advice I would give any family member in any state who suffers a substantial loss. In other words, the best way to prevent disputes with your insurance company after a loss is to first call a good lawyer who is experienced in insurance claims disputes before you call your insurance company.
Last year, wildfires burned more than 846,000 acres, and about 4,000 Oregonians had to evacuate their homes. The 2019 wildfire season is far from over, that means now is the time to help your friends, neighbors, and customers get prepared.
September is National Preparedness Month, and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation is excited to announce
Sept. 1-7 as Home Inventory Week.
To help Oregonians take active steps towards disaster preparedness, we are encouraging everyone to do two simple tasks:
1) Make a home inventory of all their personal property
Wildfire season proves the importance for all Oregonians to be ready for disaster. Building a home inventory and checking your insurance coverage are two of the most important aspects of a disaster readiness plan.
Thank you for all you do to help Oregonians reach their financial goals, and thank you for helping your neighbors prepare for disaster.
Oregon Insurance Commissioner