Everyone knows the importance of having homeowners insurance ... even if no one wants to ever have to use it. However, preparing as though you'll eventually need that insurance is a smart idea, starting with creating photographic evidence of your possessions.
Keep in mind, insurance photography requires a bit more organization and technique than simply walking through your house, snapping images. Use these tips to help you achieve the best results when shooting photos for insurance purposes.
Start by making a list of all of the possessions you want to document with your camera. Be sure to look in cupboards, in closets, and in drawers, so you don't miss anything. Sometimes, the smallest items can have the most value.
Before you begin shooting, you may want to activate the date and time stamp on your camera, which will superimpose the current date and time on each image. That way, you have some proof as to when the item was in your possession. Search through your camera's menus to find the command for adding the date and time stamp.
If you have items that require "grading" to determine a value, such as antiques or jewelry, be sure to shoot close-up photos of those items. Be careful that the flash on your camera doesn't wash out the photo on the close-up. Try to shoot in natural lighting, without using the flash, if at all possible. If your camera has a macro mode, use it for the fine detail on close-up objects.
If you plan to keep all of the photos on a CD, rather than make prints, you'll want to label the items. As you shoot photos, carry a legal pad or whiteboard with you. Write down the type of object, the approximate date of purchase, and approximate value. Snap a photo of the item description on the whiteboard, followed by a photo of the item.
Store digital copies of any printed appraisals that you may have with the digital photos.
If you're going to make prints of the photos of your items, you can write the item descriptions on the back of the prints.
In addition to shooting photos of individual objects, consider shooting photos that show each of the rooms in your house, along with a few photos of the home's exterior. Such photos can help you prove the size of your home and any extra items, such as an outbuilding or a swimming pool.
As you shoot photos of each room, try shooting one photo while standing in each of the four corners of the room. You'll be sure to not miss any aspect of the room by following that shooting method.
Finally, be sure to store at least one copy of your prints, or the CD that contains the photos, away from your home, preferably in a safe deposit box at a bank or in a relative's home in another city. That way, if your home is damaged in an accident that requires an insurance claim, you'll be sure that you have at least one copy of your photos that is safe.
Keep a copy at home, too, so that you can check it occasionally for any omissions. Checking the photos once a year, maybe around Jan. 1 (after the holidays), and adding any new possessions is a good idea.