Oklahoma tornadoes: How to track belongings

Brown O'Haver Public Adjusters gives tips for documenting household items before, or after, a tornado or other disaster strikes.
by Richard Mize Modified: May 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm •  Published: June 1, 2013

— Sometimes it helps to see things spelled out in black and white to “get it.”

John Whitson of Brown O'Haver Public Adjusters spelled it out Thursday night at an insurance seminar at Community Christian Church in Moore. What it is is just how much stuff we have in our houses. The question is, is it all documented in case of a tornado or other disaster?

Here are some notes from his presentation:

Inventory, inventory, inventory — there are over 2,500 items in a typical house (I might have that many books alone).

High-value areas that are often overlooked include:

•  Toiletries and makeup.

•  Food and spices. Think about those little containers of spices, and how much each cost — and how we don't notice because we buy them infrequently over time.

•  Garage tools. Same deal as with spices. How many $20 or more runs to the hardware store or auto parts house have you made over the years?

•  Books, CDs and other media. Again, it adds up so slowly it's hard to estimate.

How to jog your memory:

•  Friends' and family pictures and video.

•  Facebook photos.

When it comes to pack up, cleaning and storage (directly from John):

•  You have choices.

•  You should receive a written estimate for pack out, cleaning, storage and pack in before you do anything.

•  If your items have already been removed you need to ask for a current invoice and an estimate for future services.

•  You do not have to have anything done; you can choose to be paid directly.

by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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