Some Lessons Learned From Our House Fire

There was one useful result of the disaster we suffered: Friends and neighbors immediately reviewed their property-insurance coverage. Here are some tips to help you do the same:

--Make certain your coverage is adequate for both contents and building. As we counted shirts and socks after the fire, we were amazed at how much we had accumulated. I might have been bankrupt if not for the contents replacement cost endorsement in my policy.

--Also be aware that building costs rise, sometimes faster than the automatic inflationary adjustments in typical policies. Automatic adjustments do not reflect the true value of significant home improvements.

--Most policies also offer a guaranteed home replacement cost endorsement. I took that option after the fire. This endorsement waives the policy limit if the property loss exceeds it.


--If you run any kind of a business from your home, be sure your homeowner’s policy includes business coverage.

--Be certain you have photos of all your contents, or better still, a video cassette of your possessions. Store these records in a safe deposit box, or other place outside your home. Be sure to keep receipts there too.

The Insurance Informational Institute (III) has a free inventory form. For a copy, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to III, 110 William St., New York, N.Y., 10038.