Barker Martin

Condo-HOA Blog

Spring Cleaning

As my wife is apt to do, she recently gave our house a good spring cleaning. Luckily (for me), I wasn't home. The first sign I had that the purge was underway was when I pulled into the driveway and opened the garage door. There was a rather large plant (fake apparently) taking a prominent spot near the garbage. I asked my wife where the plant came from. Much to my surprise, the plant had been residing in the corner of my bonus room for several years. Despite the fact that I had entered that room every day for the past several years, I honestly could not remember ever noticing it. I'm sure at some point in my life I noticed the plant. Maybe it was on the first day, maybe the tenth, but I must have noticed it at some point. Like many things in our lives, the more we see them, the more they fade into the woodwork and fail to grab out attention. At this point, you are probably wondering what the heck this has to do with insurance. Bear with me.

The plant got me thinking about other things in my house I may have stopped noticing. Then it occurred to me that in the event of a loss destroying my home or its contents, how would I ever be able to prove to my insurance company what I owned? Insurance companies and agents have long advised people to document the items in their homes. My guess is that few do. With today's technology, however, it seems crazy not to provide yourself with at least some modicum of protection. At a minimum, walk around your house and take photos of each room. If you have cloud storage, keep the photos there in case your phone goes up in flames (literally my kids' worst nightmare). For expensive items, make notes of the brand, size, age, etc. in the event of a loss, you won't be stuck trying to remember all of your possessions (or relying on your absent-minded spouse to do the same).

For community associations, the same should be done for common areas, such as club houses, recreation buildings, etc.  Also, equally important, associations should have a professional insurance appraisal conducted at least every five years to ensure the limits of coverage will adequately cover the present value of the property and contents.  Lastly, though not directly on point, for condominium "all in" policies, individual owners should document betterments within their units through receipts, invoices or, as described above, photographs or video.

I am going to take my own advice and do this. I will even take a photo of the mystery plant, at least until I can take it to the dump.