How to Prepare a Personal Property Insurance Claim

After suffering an insured loss to your home, such as a fire, storm, flood, theft, roof collapse, etc., one of the most time consuming & tedious responsibilities you will be obligated to do is prepare the "contents" claim. Unfortunately, most people assume that the insurance company would be handling this type of thing, especially considering your family has just experienced a traumatizing event such as a fire.

However, despite common belief, it is "no so clearly" stated directly on the policy that it is the homeowner's obligation to document every single individual item in the house, from the socks in the top drawer of your bedroom dresser, to the cans of soup in the pantry, to the holiday decorations packed up in the attic, and everything else in between...

Thanks to modern technology that has only emerged during the last few years, you can utilize your cell phone camera, a cloud based photo storage account and some "tips from the trade" to cut the amount of time and frustration down to a bearable level, while also protecting your family from ridiculous "low ball" offers later on in the settlement process.


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    Name your rooms. To ensure that all your property is correctly listed in the right rooms, place "Post-Its" (extra sticky) on each doorway and area of your home and write in the floor level and the room name.
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    List your rooms. To make sure that no rooms are left out later, list each room of each floor on a piece of paper. Take a clear photo of this once it is filled out and hold on to it for later.
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    Prepare to start taking your photos. Make sure your camera and/or cell phone camera is set up and there is enough lighting. Begin from the bottom floor and work your way up. Once you choose a room to start, take a macro-close up photo of the "post-it" showing which room you are starting.
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    Take photographs of all four sides of the room, as well as all corners, showing as much contents as possible.
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    Fill in the photo gaps. In a clockwise direction, take clear, detailed photos of all of the contents in the room. (Avoid camera shake/blur.)
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    Check your photos as you take them. Ensure that they came out right, and important details such as what the item is, the brand, model #, etc., are displayed.
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    Once you complete a room, write on the "Post-It" that it is "complete" and take a photo of that, showing that its the last photo of that room.
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    Continue that process. Start with taking a photo of the "Post-It" before you start a room, and complete these steps through all rooms of the house.


  • Uploading your photos: The easiest and fastest way for us to navigate and go over the photos is through Picasa Web. You will also find that uploading in Picasa is just as easy and uploads faster than any other application.
    • Go to
    • Click on Upload
    • Type in Title (album name)
    • Drag or select photos from where you saved them on your computer. Upload multiple photos by holding on CTRL key while clicking on the photos that you want to upload
    • Edit album properties (Title, Description, etc) and Visibility (who can view your photo) by clicking on EDIT (found on the far left of the page)
    • On the drop down arrow next to Visibility, choose “Limited, anyone with the link”
    • Click Save Changes
    • To share the link to yourself or someone else, click on “link to this album” (found on left side of the page)
    • Link will appear below “link to this album”
    • Email the link to yourself to start the evaluation portion
  • If you're taking pictures of something for details such as Model #, make sure you actually capture that information. (Use Macro settings to ensure that the details are clear)
    • Large Items: Remember to take detailed photos of the larger items, such as Furniture, large TVs, tables, chairs and bedroom furniture.
  • The more information you provide with photos, the better they can be later researched and priced.
    • For Electronics: Take a photo of the whole item THEN take additional side views, as well as the label with the Model & Serial Numbers. Insurance companies often require this information to validate the item.
  • Avoid photo duplication, where possible.
  • Example: Let’s say you have an antique sofa with carved wood crest on the back of the sofa, carved wood feet and arms. It also has furniture nails for trim. Take a photo of the WHOLE sofa. Then take photos of the crest, a foot/leg, the arms and the furniture nails. Look for a brand stamp beneath a cushion or underneath it.
  • Apply these same tips to Small Appliances as well.

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Categories: Insurance