In a quiet, residential neighborhood… like yours?

A good friend was at our house a month or two ago, having tea. Her cell phone rang.

“I’m not answering that,” she said emphatically. “I’m here now, and I’m having tea. They can wait.”

The phone rang again. And again she waved her hand at it, saying (firmly this time) she wasn’t going to pick it up.

And then it rang again. The ladies around the table giggled nervously. “Hey, maybe you ought to pick it up, hon. It could be serious.”


Then it rang a fourth time. With a big sigh and a roll of the eyes she rummaged in her purse, fished out the relentlessly ringing phone, and picked it up.

And then her eyes popped wide open. “What!? Are you serious!?” It was her husband on the line.

In a flash, she hung up.  Scrambling to grab her things, she looked at the ladies around the tea table. “Guys, I have to leave. They say my house is on fire!

It was. Her purse flailing in the wind behind her, she flew out the door with hardly a wave.

Fortunately, an alert neighbor called the fire department. The firefighters got there before them and put out the fire before the entire structure burnt down. But pretty much everything was destroyed.

This happened a month or so ago, in a quiet residential neighborhood of Denver. A neighborhood probably not that different from yours. Where nobody thinks it could happen to them.

She didn’t think this could happen to her, either.

Fortunately, they had good insurance which covered them with replacement cost for everything that got damaged. Their policy could have covered them for only market value. Had that been the case, they would have received the second hand value for the old things they had kept and cared for through the years, but which had very little market value. The last thing you want when you lost everything is someone else’s used stuff in your house.

And pretty much everything they had in the house is needing replacement. They didn’t have a photo inventory of the contents of the house, but they got very lucky. They were fortunate in that everything, although damaged, was still there so they didn’t have to remember what all was in the house. All the items in the house were still identifiable and recognizable. But… it could just as well have worked out differently. If the firefighters had arrived ten minutes or so later, most of their belongings would have been destroyed, and then they would have had a challenge to remember what was there. Close your eyes. Can you list EVERY SINGLE ITEM in your house? Nobody can.

Fortunately (again) our friend is an organized person who happened to have the original receipts for many of their belongings filed away in a filing cabinet, and these records, though smoke damaged, were legibly preserved. And so, despite not having a photo record, they had a record of model numbers.

Here’s where that becomes important: the insurance company will probably try replace everything with only a generic bottom of the line model, unless you have proof that an item had particular features or was a specific model. This is a subtlety few of us think of. Our organized friend was saved by something almost none of us has – a detailed record of purchases. Even though few of us have records like that, there is good news: we won’t need that… if we have a photo inventory of our belongings.

Do you have a photo inventory of the contents of your residence? Grab your camera NOW and do it. You may never need it, sure. Our friend never thought their house would ever catch fire, either.

But you never know. Ten or fifteen minutes is all it takes.

And do you know whether your fire policy covers you for market value or replacement cost of the contents? Just call Grant to make sure your policy covers you in all ways as you hope it does.


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