How to recover your losses in case of fire or theft

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PHOENIX -- If a fire damaged your home tonight or a burglar stole your valuables, could you prove to your insurance company what you lost and how much it is worth?

Having a record of what you own can help you put your life back together again after a crisis. So here is some advice on how to do it.

Use a digital or video camera to shoot photos or videos throughout your home. Include every room, wall, and closet and focus in detail on art objects, antiques or jewelry. It’s also good to take close-ups of model and serial numbers on particularly important items. Be sure to take separate shots of your big screen TV and pieces of jewelry. You can even take photos of receipts and appraisals and other documents.

Then combine this visual record with a detailed written list. You can create a home inventory spreadsheet yourself or use a home inventory software program. Or fill out a checklist provided by your insurance company. Identify items by type and give brand names and serial numbers. Record when you bought various objects.

After pictures and lists are stored in your computer, copy the records onto DVDs or CDs. Some homeowners also create an album or notebook of the pictures. Give a copy of the disk to a trusted friend or relative. Put one in your bank safety deposit box or store one in a secure place at your office. Then you will be ready to deal with possible property loss at your home.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the Rosie on the House radio program from 8-11 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR-FM (92.3) in Phoenix, KQNA-AM (1130) in Prescott and KAZM-AM (780) in Sedona, KAFF-AM (930) in Flagstaff and KNST-AM (790) in Tucson. Call 888-767-4348.