For new school year, make photo record of property

My Desk

Image by Tostie14 via Flickr

by Russ Van Arsdale
executive director, Northeast CONTACT

For the thousands of students getting ready to head back to school, Northeast CONTACT has a piece of advice regarding your belongings.

Shoot your stuff. Not with Uncle Clyde’s favorite deer rifle, but with the compact digital camera you’ll likely be taking along with you. You might even stand in front of a mirror and get a shot of the camera while you’re at it.

Making a photographic record of your possessions is perhaps the easiest way to do an inventory of all the things you’ll have when you start the new school year. Then, if anything goes missing during the year, you’ll have a photographic reminder of exactly what it looked like. Close-up shots of unique details or markings might help identify something as yours.

Once you have all the digital photos, you’ll want to put them together, probably on a single compact disc. Store it in a safe place, so that you can retrieve it if and when you need it.

To go a step beyond the simple photo inventory, you might use an inventory creating program or service. This could be useful for students, either living on their own or with roommates. Private companies will photograph and catalog your things for a fee, or you can download computer programs that will do a lot of the work for you.

One free program recommended by CNET (which reviews all manner of computer-related hardware and software) is called What You Own Home Inventory. The reviewers at CNET like its ease of use and the fact that it’s free. It’s downloadable at http://whatyouown.org. The Insurance Information Institute offers its own free program at www.knowyourstuff.org. You can also request a Home Owner’s Inventory Checklist from Maine’s Bureau of Insurance by calling (207)-624-8475.

We’ve urged creation of a home inventory in case of fire, natural disaster or other unforeseen event that too often disrupts our lives. Having up-to-date records–including serial numbers and other pertinent data–can make life a lot easier when those possessions are lost or damaged.

Which brings us to the matter of insurance. Students will want to talk with their parents before heading for school to see what protection their homeowners’ insurance gives to students off at college.

Jeffrey Neal of Neal Associates of Lincoln (part of the Varney Group) says virtually every insurance carrier offers differing coverage; that’s why discussing specifics is important.

Neal says most insurers offer “off-premises coverage” for students, if they are still considered part of their family’s household when not in school. Again, details will vary. If your parents have insurance of $50,000 on the contents of their home, you as a student may be entitled to 10 percent – $5,000 – coverage on your property at whatever student housing you live in.

Homeowners’ insurance may also cover school-issued laptops the student takes home at night. Coverage of “property of others” is another point that’s best checked with your insurance agent.

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by Russ Van Arsdale

executive director, Northeast CONTACT

For the thousands of students getting ready to head back to school, Northeast CONTACT has a piece of advice regarding your belongings.

Shoot your stuff. Not with Uncle Clyde’s favorite deer rifle, but with the compact digital camera you’ll likely be taking along with you. You might even stand in front of a mirror and get a shot of the camera while you’re at it.

Making a photographic record of your possessions is perhaps the easiest way to do an inventory of all the things you’ll have when you start the new school year. Then, if anything goes missing during the year, you’ll have a photographic reminder of exactly what it looked like. Close-up shots of unique details or markings might help identify something as yours.

Once you have all the digital photos, you’ll want to put them together, probably on a single compact disc. Store it in a safe place, so that you can retrieve it if and when you need it.

To go a step beyond the simple photo inventory, you might use an inventory creating program or service. This could be useful for students, either living on their own or with roommates. Private companies will photograph and catalog your things for a fee, or you can download computer programs that will do a lot of the work for you.

One free program recommended by CNET (which reviews all manner of computer-related hardware and software) is called What You Own Home Inventory. The reviewers at CNET like its ease of use and the fact that it’s free. It’s downloadable at http://whatyouown.org. The Insurance Information Institute offers its own free program at http://www.knowyourstuff.org. You can also request a Home Owner’s Inventory Checklist from Maine’s Bureau of Insurance by calling (207)-624-8475.

We’ve urged creation of a home inventory in case of fire, natural disaster or other unforeseen event that too often disrupts our lives. Having up-to-date records–including serial numbers and other pertinent data–can make life a lot easier when those possessions are lost or damaged.

Which brings us to the matter of insurance. Students will want to talk with their parents before heading for school to see what protection their homeowners’ insurance gives to students off at college.

Jeffrey Neal of Neal Associates of Lincoln (part of the Varney Group) says virtually every insurance carrier offers differing coverage; that’s why discussing specifics is important.

Neal says most insurers offer “off-premises coverage” for students, if they are still considered part of their family’s household when not in school. Again, details will vary. If your parents have insurance of $50,000 on the contents of their home, you as a student may be entitled to 10 percent – $5,000 – coverage on your property at whatever student housing you live in.

Homeowners’ insurance may also cover school-issued laptops the student takes home at night. Coverage of “property of others” is another point that’s best checked with your insurance agent.

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