Both of these measures are easy to do and could save you from a lot of grief down the road if you have to get out of your house quickly, for whatever reason.
In the June 11,2001, issue of the Houston Chronicle, Purva Patel interviewed Attorney Phillip Sanov. Sanov has represented dozens of Hurricane Ike clients before their insurance companies, and he had some great advice that we all might want to heed. The first one is from Sanov. The second is something I added.
1) Take pictures. Take lots of pictures. Take the pictures now, not later. It is very, very important to document the condition of your home, your car, your business, your truck, your boat, whatever it is.
Take pictures inside your home. Stand in a room and take a picture, Sanov says. Turn a half-step and take another picture. Keep taking until you’ve got everything in that room covered, and then go on to the next room.
This proves you actually owned something or other. It also shows what condition that something or other was in before the fire, wind, flood, or break-in occurred. It seems there are two types of clients — those with the pictures to back up their claims, and the ones who have to haggle with their insurance companies for a long, long time, sometimes to no avail.
Take pictures outside too. Roof, walls, patio, driveway, garage or carport. Take lots and lots of pictures.
Sanov says to burn the pictures to a CD or put them on a thumb-drive, but I’ve thought of yet another way to do it. Attach the pictures, a few at a time, to an email and email them to yourself if you have a web mail account, such as g-mail or yahoo mail. Then make a folder for the pictures in your email and store them there. If you want a CD or thumb- drive backup, do that too.
2) Make up a “GOOD” box. (“GOOD” for “get-out-of-Dodge” box.) Ours is a plastic box that is big enough to hold manilla folders and a number of envelopes. See photo below. We’ve got photocopies of our driver’s licenses, copies of all credit and debit cards, insurance policies, dog and cat shot records, you name it. We keep it in a cabinet near the door, and we can easily grab it if we have to get out of Dodge. You could also keep your photo CD or thumb drive in the GOOD box, but that won’t do you much good if your house burns down while you’re away from home. That’s why I suggest email storage as well. You could also copy the photo CD and keep it in a safe-deposit box if you have one.
So, that’s it. Two simple things to do that might take a little time on the front end, but just might save you a lot of time if the unthinkable happens. Lately, it seems the unthinkable has happened to a heck of a lot of people. You only have to experience a fire, or a flood, or a hurricane, or a break-in, or an earthquake once to wise up. Take a lot of pictures and get yourself a box. You might just be glad you did.