Archive for Thursday, May 8, 2008

Greensburg provided lessons

May 8, 2008

The May 4 first anniversary of the devastating and deadly Greensburg tornado serves as a reminder to all Kansans to make sure their property insurance is current and adequate.

Those of us who have visited Greensburg since the devastating tornado destroyed nearly all its businesses and homes and caused the death of 11 persons have seen firsthand how important it is to have insurance coverage on property and to have a list of the contents of those buildings.

Having a written and video record of your home's belongings is something we stress to consumers in our department presentations. The information you enter into a home inventory can make an insurance claim settlement faster and easier. Having the property file makes for a more accurate claim, saving you time, money and frustration when you have a property loss.

The Kansas Insurance Department has a Personal Home Inventory booklet available to consumers to download through the "Publications" area of our Web site, www.ksinsurance.org.

The booklet also can be requested by contacting 800-432-2484. Additionally, many local insurance agents have inventory booklets available through the companies they represent. In the KID Personal Home Inventory, there is space to record items found in each area of your home, as well as a summary page and space for listing specialty items such as artwork, china, glassware, electronics, jewelry and silverware. In each case, you can provide a description of the articles, the year purchased, the original cost and an estimate of the present value.

If you have access to a digital or video camera, here are some tips for visual coverage of your items:

¢ Take both wide angle and closeup shots.

¢ Have a family member in the photos to help verify ownership. Make sure videotapes and photos are dated.

¢ Open closet doors to demonstrate the quantity of clothing. Do the same for the contents of drawers.

¢ Position yourself at a 45-degree angle to take photos of shiny objects.

When you have completed your inventory, be sure to place a value on all your belongings. There are two types of policies available for property coverage: actual cash value, defined as replacement cost minus depreciation, and replacement cost, which as the name implies, pays for the replacement costs of the property. Please contact your insurance company and/or agent/agency to make sure you qualify for and have replacement-cost coverage on your structures, as well as for your personal belongings. Replacement-cost insurance coverage is more expensive; however, it provides much better insurance protection.

One final item about the home inventory: Be sure to keep it in a safe place away from the home.

A safe deposit box is a good place for safekeeping all important papers, including birth certificates, deeds or other legal documents.

Kansans are encouraged to call the Kansas Insurance Department's toll-free Consumer

Assistance Hotline at 800-432-2484 or visit the department's Web site at www.ksinsurance.org if they have questions or need further information about personal property insurance. The hotline is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

- Sandy Praeger is Kansas Insurance Commissioner.

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