Home Inventory Provides Peace Of Mind

September 19, 2008
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As the scenes of the aftermath of Hurricane Ike remind us, we are in the most active part of hurricane season. Although we have been relatively fortunate with respect to hurricanes and tropical storms since Hurricane Isabel struck five years ago, we need to be prepared. In addition to bad weather, there are a number of events that can damage your home or belongings. If you need to file a claim with your homeowners or flood insurance company or with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), then you should have an up-to-date inventory of the contents of your home.
Preparing a home inventory can be a daunting task. You can use pen and paper, take photographs of your possessions, or prepare a spreadsheet on your computer. There are also commercial software programs that can help you with the inventory process. One example is Quicken Home Inventory Manager. This software and others like it normally allow you to click on pre-selected choices to build your list, according to the rooms of your house. In addition to the usual rooms in the house, these areas can include laundry and utility rooms, and patio decks. This software includes categories of items such as office equipment, hobbies and crafts. You can also add your own locations and categories of items. You may also be able to drag-and drop images into your inventory list, including photographs and receipts. In addition, you can back up the information to a flash drive, or back it up online for an additional fee. You can print a copy of your inventory and store it in a safe place. Backing up your data is critical because you do not want to spend the time and effort to build the inventory only to discover that you cannot find it or access it in an emergency.
The attorneys at Oast & Hook say that “prior planning improves results.” They can assist clients with their estate, financial, investment, long-term care, veterans’ benefits and insurance planning needs. Preparing the home inventory, however, is up to the client. It’s easy to procrastinate; don’t be one of those unfortunate homeowners who suffer major damage to their homes and do not have the documentation to back up the claims they need to file in order to rebuild.

Ask Allie

A Reader: Allie, many people are in a financial crunch, with gas and groceries taking a bigger bite out of their budgets. What can families do to save on pet care without skimping on the essentials?
Allie: The number one thing pet families can do is focus on prevention. If you can help us stay healthy, you can help avoid costs of serious health problems later. For example, studies show that most dogs and cats are overweight. Those extra pounds increase the likelihood of arthritis, diabetes, and cancer, just as those extra pounds do for humans. You should carefully measure your pet’s food, keep treats to a minimum, and try to work in a daily exercise session. If your pet is overweight, work with your veterinarian to reduce those excess pounds slowly; we cats are particularly susceptible to serious health risks from sudden weight loss. Prevention also extends to accidents. If pets are hit by cars, poisoned by hazardous foods, plants or medications, their treatment can cost thousands of dollars. Keep cats inside to prevent injuries and to protect them from communicable diseases, and keep dogs on a leash or in a fenced area. You should also keep hazards out of reach. The people here at Oast & Hook take good care of me! I’ll have more cost-saving tips in a future column.
Please feel free to e-mail your pet and animal-related questions to Allie at:allie@oasthook.com .

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