A major problem insureds regularly face after suffering a loss of any kind is documenting their contents claim. Most people do not keep receipts or detailed lists of all contents of their homes and proving proof of your lost contents can become very difficult. Even if you keep a list, it is entirely possible that the list was lost along with all of the property.

The standard and most commonly used Homeowner’s Insurance Policy, the H03, has sub-limits that provide a limit on the value of any item of personal property that the insurance company will pay. Often, this sub-limit is insufficient to replace your valuables.

Insureds can protect themselves in a few different ways. The first is getting separate insurance riders for high value items. If you have jewelry or fine art, its good practice to have the items appraised and submitting the appraisals to their carriers and asking that they add a rider to their homeowner’s insurance policy for those items. Adding a rider to your insurance policy will ensure that any loss you unfortunately sustain will be properly paid by the insurance company.

Homeowners should also consider hiring an appraiser to come out and put a value to your property. Homeowners can then add the appraisal to the rider on their insurance policy for full proof and documentation.

Second, some insurance carriers are providing iPhone and Android Apps to assist with the documentation of the contents of your home. For example, Allstate provides their Digital Locker, State Farm has HomeIndex and Liberty Mutual has Home Gallery. Additionally, there are other third party apps which also help you document your home’s contents. Each app works differently but the basics are the same: take photos of each room of your home, list the items in each room, and add receipts. Time consuming, yes, but invaluable if a loss occurs.

If you are having issues with your insurance company, such as they are not paying on a contents claim, make sure you consult an experienced insurance professional.

As always, I’ll leave you with a (mildly) related tune, here’s The Doors with Riders on the Storm:

  • David Thompson

    The recommendations are good.

    After my daughter’s apartment burned to the ground a few years back (she lost everything) we submitted a claim to her insurance company. We had no documentation since EVERYTHING was lost in the fire.

    We submitted a proof of loss via the company website (including receipts for purchases for replacement items) about 9:00 a.m. At about 2:00 p.m. the company had made a direct deposit into her checking account for the entire amount of the claim, no questions asked. It’s a classic example of a good company doing a great job on a severe loss. Sure, some claims go bad, but most are paid quickly and promptly.

    That event did, however, force me to get a camera the next week and go through my entire house and photograph everything, and I do mean everything. I opened dresser drawers, opened kitchen cabinets, and took over 300 photos of everything I own. Those photos are stored on two computers, two “clouds,” and a flash drive in another city. I can easily prove everything I own.

    By the way, the term “rider” is not a P&C insurance term; the correct word is “endorsement.”

  • Mike Jones


    Great to hear a trouble free success story here. Also great call on the term “rider”. I have been handling Property Claims for 15 years, at the homeowner, large commercial (policies with limits >$100m) and reinsurance levels. I have no idea what a “rider” is. What I do know is that I have many of my valuable items insured on an all-risk, stated value, Inland Marine schedule.

    Using improper terms like “rider” only serves to confuse matters.