NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- You can get your home insurance claims processed up to 100% faster by making one simple household financial move: doing a home inventory.
According to the Hanover Insurance Group, about 80% of insurance industry professionals say claims are processed 50% to 100% faster if you've done one.
That could mean the difference between getting a claims check in several days as opposed to several weeks.
"You never know when a disaster will strike -- whether it's theft, damage or weather -- but when it does, the priority is to restore your life,” says Mark Welzenbach, chief claims officer at Hanover. “A home inventory documents your contents and the value of your possessions to help expedite the claims process.”
A good home inventory starts with two key steps: establishing proof of ownership and including accurate descriptions of your household items.
For example, on big-ticket items such as hot tubs or big-screen televisions, record the serial numbers and the make and model of the item. Photos are a good idea, as are including any professional appraisals on such things as jewelry and paintings.
Record your appraisal on a computer with a backup system, a mobile phone or computer tablet app -- or on paper, as long as it is protected in some way, such as locked in a safe.
Whatever you do, make sure you start and finish that inventory and keep it updated.
"Choose whatever inventory process helps you get the initial work done and, importantly ... update regularly," Welzenbach says. "If you suffer a loss -- whether a lost piece of jewelry or a fire -- you'll be glad you're prepared."
Welzenbach and Hanover offer some tips on when to update your home inventory:
- Immediately after a move to a new home.
- After a remodel, especially if furniture or electronics are upgraded as well.
- During the holidays when "celebration" purchases of high value are made or big gifts are received.
- Daylight Savings Time, so it becomes a yearly habit to update your inventory when you change the clocks each spring.
To Welzenbach, it’s all about putting in a little time now for a big return down the road.
"Don't procrastinate and have regrets later," Welzenbach says. "This is a small investment of time that could pay a significant return."