OFIR Encourages Consumers to Use Free App to Protect Possessions from Severe Weather

April 26, 2012
Media Contact: Jason Moon 517-335-1700
Consumer Hotline: 877-999-6442

LANSING - As Michigan braces for the tornadoes, floods and violent storms that accompany the spring and summer seasons, the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR) today urged consumers to create a detailed record of their valuables and belongings.

To help consumers with this documentation, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has created the free myHOME Scr.APP.book application that makes it easier for consumers to document their possessions, update their inventories and store the information for easy access after a disaster.

The app is available for both iPhone® and Android® smart phone users and lets users capture images, bar codes and serial numbers of personal possessions and stores the information electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information by room and creates a back-up file for email sharing. To download the free app, go to the iTunes® or Android® Market app stores and search “NAIC.”

For those without a smart phone, the NAIC offers a downloadable home inventory checklist and tips for effectively cataloguing your possessions. Both are available at http://home.insureuonline.org.

“A violent weather event can affect the possessions of any Michigan consumer,” Commissioner Kevin Clinton said. “Creating a detailed home inventory and storing it in a safe place is one of the best ways to ensure that your possessions are protected.”

Before severe weather strikes, consumers can use their inventory to evaluate their coverage and determine if they need to update their policies. It’s important to know that how much is reimbursed varies greatly from policy to policy. On average, home contents are reimbursed only up to 50 percent of the home’s insured value, i.e., $50,000 to replace the contents of a home insured for $100,000.

Items to Consider when Determining Home Insurance Needs:

  • Electronics - The standard $1,000 policy limit on electronics may not be sufficient to replace multiple computers, MP3 players and tablets. Additionally, many homeowners’ policies do not cover items, such as laptops and televisions, stolen from a dorm room; so families with children living on or off campus should consider renter’s insurance.
  • Jewelry - Most policies limit coverage for jewelry to $500, which typically is insufficient  to replace a favorite pair of diamond earrings, a wedding ring or expensive family jewelry passed down from generation to generation.
  • Fashion - Considering the amount of laundry in the hamper each week, many parents realize the volume of clothing in the household is significant. Replacing clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories for today’s fashion-conscious family can add up.
  • Home Goods - Kitchen appliances, workshop tools and sporting equipment also should be included when creating a home inventory.

Additional insurance tips to help prepare for a possible natural disaster:

  • Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy. 
  • To enable filing claims more quickly, log sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.
  • As you acquire more valuables - jewelry, family heirlooms, antiques, art - consider purchasing an additional "floater" or "rider" to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowners or renter's insurance policy.
  • Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).

If you have a question or complaint about an insurance company, policy or professional contact OFIR toll free at 877-999-6442 or www.michigan.gov/ofir