How your phone’s camera can save you a headache with your insurer


If something ever gets lost, stolen or burned at your home, how do you prove it to your insurance company? The answer may be sitting right there in your pocket!

Read more: Beware of ‘storm chasers’ who use pressure tactics on homeowners

Do this once a year

Once a year on her birthday, Clark’s wife Lane takes her phone and does a ‘walk and talk’ around the couple’s home to document all of their belongings while making a video recording.

Does his wife just like to show off? No! She just knows that if you have a legitimate loss like a catastrophic house fire, the insurance adjuster may assume you’re trying to pull something over on them — even if you’re not. Videotaping your belongings on your phone or using a standalone video camera helps you prove what you say you’ve lost.

Now, obviously, her choice of day is entirely arbitrary; you can do this any day of the year. It’s just important to remember to get it done once a year so you account for new possessions. is a free site lets you document all your belongings online and store the info on a secure server. It is a free service of the Insurance Information Institute.

If you don’t trust the cloud for storing that video and want a hard copy of your recording, video cameras can be had for less than $100 these days. That little purchase can save you thousands of dollars if your house were to ever catch fire. The videotape becomes an insurance policy for your insurance policy. Just be sure to store it off-site or in a fire-proof safe.

Buy an additional insurance rider for these items

Some things you own may not be covered under the standard language of your homeowners insurance. For those you’ll need an additional rider. Such items include: 

  • Professional camera equipment
  • China
  • Silver
  • Crystal
  • Collectibles
  • Fine art
  • Furs
  • Jewelry
  • Musical instruments
  • Sports memorabilia

When you buy a rider, you might also need to go one more step and have an appraisal. That’s very common when you’re talking about collectibles and jewelry. Here’s one option to get an appraisal done that Clark has discussed in the past.

Read more: Why you should update your homeowners coverage limits every 5 years


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