Have you ever went around your home and tallied up how much your possessions are worth? Yeah me neither. I keep saying that I should, but I never do.
We both should do this as soon as possible.
Why? If there’s a fire in your home and need to place an insurance claim (such as after getting your home insured with HBF), you’ll be able to show the insurance adjusters, more or less, what you lost.
If it’s Laziness stopping me from documenting everything, I need to stop living up to my name. When I first wrote about emergency preparedness back in early 2008, I mentioned digitizing your media and uploading them to the Internet. At the time, no one had heard of Android and the Flip video camera craze was just starting to gain interest. Today, it almost everyone has access to a video camera (if even on their smartphone to record a video tour of the house. It probably would take 10 minutes to get most of the big stuff.
If there’s any difficulty it comes with the little things. For example, flipping through my sports card collection certainly takes some time. Women might find that documenting their jewelry is the same way. Fortunately, the 80/20 rule applies here… 80% of the value of my card collection are in only 20% of the cards. Okay, I lied. It is probably closer to 99.9/0.1, but people are more familiar with the 80/20 rule.
Once you have the video, you should upload it to a video to a cloud service. A memory card with a video of your stuff is no good if it is charred to smithereens in a fire. A private YouTube should do the trick. If you are technical-minded and want to pay a few pennies for you could use something like Amazon’s Glacier (which has “annual durability of 99.999999999%”), but it will cost you a couple of dollars a month depending on how much data you have to upload.
With video evidence, it’s not just my word that I lost a Kevin McHale rookie card in a fire… it’s very good proof. Now, I just have to resist the urge to look it up and find that it is only worth about $3.
I swear I already posted this, but I’m not seeing it. Maybe I missed the “submitted for approval” message, this will be a duplicate, or I forgot to actually submit.
While uploading this type of video to a video cloud service is not a bad idea, a better idea, one we should all do anyhow, is to subscribe to an online backup service. While I currently use Crashplan I used to use Safecopybackup. (I just outgrew them.) For less than the cost of a nice dinner for two at a hibachi or fondue type place you get a years worth of cloud backup. While this is definitely a way to save your home video in the event of a fire simply by having it on your computer, it also serves as a way to get your family photos in the event of a computer failure. With how much of our lives are all digital these days, and the many things beyond a house fire/tornado that could cause problems, this is a much more complete solution than a single video on an online video service.
I’m not shilling for a particular service either. Carbonite is a favorite, and Mozy is another I considered. Which service you use is up to your research (or read over some comparison articles) based on your needs. The only universal need here is that your computer needs to be subscribed to one of these.
In short, while this is a good note for emergency prepardeness I think everyone would be better off dropping the upload to a video service and instead spending five minutes signing up for an online backup service. You will be more prepared for more emergencies and the cost is less than you would expect for what you get.
Lazy Man says
Amazon Glacier is my back-up service of choice for this kind of thing as I tried to indicate in the article. I think it’s much cheaper than subscribing to a service like the ones you suggested, unless you are already using them as a back-up plan.
Is it not easier to just keep all receipts?
A picture or video, even in addition to your word, doesn’t have much value. For example if I re-use your jewelry example, I doubt that a picture/video will tell much about the quality of a piece.
Lazy Man says
If you have all the receipts, I suppose that would be the same. However, my couch is over 10 years old and the receipt ink has faded.
True jewelry isn’t always easy, but with gold there are typically indications whether it is 18k or 24k… things like that. Of course if it’s worth a lot, you may want to have it appraised. I think a video of the aforementioned couch in my living room is pretty good proof that I owned it and would be valuable to the insurance adjuster.
In general, only a certain amount of jewelry is covered without needing a rider. For any jewelry of substantial value, you’ll absolutely want an appraisal.
Receipts are good, but then you’ll constantly need to track which items you still have. When you take a load to Goodwill, you’d need to track down the original receipts and note the items that were donated. Same deal when something breaks and gets thrown away.
For big ticket items, keeping a scanned copy of the receipt is a good idea. For smaller items, video is a great way to document your posessions. You can pretty quickly document the fact that you have 42 Miami Marlins t-shirts and a near-complete set of Smurfs drinking glasses. It’s the small stuff that’s nearly impossible to remember (but nonetheless can really add up).