Tips to Help You File an Insurance Claim

Getting organized will help the process go smoothly.

Getting your financial life in order may seem like a daunting task. But in the May 2010 issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance we've broken it down into quick and easy fixes you can accomplish in 15 minutes or fewer.

With storm and flood season upon us, one of our "recipes" for financial success should be tackled sooner rather than later: Snap digital photos of your household belongings. The images will help back up an insurance claim if your possessions are destroyed or stolen. Taking pictures is just a starting point for a complete household inventory, in which you itemize all your belongings and record details such as purchase price. You can use the Insurance Information Institute's free Know Your Stuff online home inventory software.

The Insurance Information Institute also offers these four tips for when you have to file an insurance claim:

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1. Call your insurance company as soon as possible if your home has been damaged and let your agent know where you can be reached.

2. Make a list of your damaged property and take photographs to substantiate your losses. Having digital photos of your belongings before they were damaged and a home inventory will help with this step.

3. Keep receipts for hotel rooms and restaurant meals if you are unable to live in your home. Most companies will reimburse you for these expenses (up to 20% of the total insurance you have on the structure of your house).

4. Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage -- and keep the receipts.

Cameron Huddleston
Former Online Editor,

Award-winning journalist, speaker, family finance expert, and author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk.

Cameron Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.