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Video your belongings now to avoid an insurance headache

Consumer Reports: Video is one of the best ways to document for insurers

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you suffer damage due to Hurricane Irma and have to replace any items, you'll need to have a detailed inventory of what you had in order to process your insurance claim. Consumer Reports says video is one of the best ways to get that documentation.

“It doesn’t have to be complicated, you can even use the camera on your phone,” said Tobie Stranger with Consumer Reports.

A Consumer Reports survey found that the greater the damage you have, the higher the likelihood there will be a disagreement over the value of the damage.

For claims of less than $20,000, only six percent of respondents reported disagreements with their insurer over the amount of a claim payment. But when damage was valued at $20,000 or more, 10 percent disagreed with their insurer's assessment of what was due. And, about three percent of those people also reported that their insurer delayed paying their claims.

So, when getting your video evidence, try to capture everything you own. Open your closets, cabinets and drawers and describe what you see as you record. For instance in your cabinets and drawers in the kitchen, talk about the maker of your dishes and the number of place settings you own.

With your major appliances, you'll want to capture brand names and serial numbers so your insurer can replace what you had with exact or similar items.

“Focus on what’s valuable. You can skip the cleaning supplies in a closet, for instance. An insurance adjuster is likely to create a ‘bulk estimate’ for those things anyway,” added Stanger.

Don't forget to include your living room shelves, bookcases and any art you have on the walls in your video documentation.

Once you're done, you'll want to make sure nothing happens to that video. You can put it onto a thumb drive and upload it into the cloud, or stash it in a safe place, like a fire safe, so it’s there when you need it. 

Consumer Reports says several insurers also offer customers free, web-based tools to guide you through the inventory process.