Insuring your stuff

When I last upgraded my homeowner’s insurance to reflect new construction prices, my agent told me that the premium for that level of coverage also included personal belongings and furnishings coverage, to the tune of half of the value of the house.  I don’t own anywhere near that amount of stuff.  I have a home inventory program on the laptop where I’ve documented all of my stuff, with pictures, and by my calculations it comes to about 25% of the value of the house, tops.  When the agent told me that, I said, “Wow – if the house gets destroyed I can have an amazing kitchen!”

There’s another little something out there in the tropics, which the weather-future-modeling-curves seem to indicate might come this way this time, rather than turning north like Bertha did.  The convergence of hurricane season here and fire season out west forces you to think about what you would take with you if you did have to evacuate your home, with the real possibility of it being destroyed.  In a way, those of us in the path of hurricanes are much more fortunate than those in the path of fires, because we usually have plenty of warning – at least 24 hours – before we have to pack up and go.  Ten years ago, in the summer of 1998, it was fire season for us, and I remember watching flames from my guest room window (in a previous house, not this one) and wondering if I was going to have to grab the dog and run at a moment’s notice.

We haven’t had any hurricane evacuations here since 2004, with Charley, Frances and Jeanne.  I remember thinking, as I headed north away from Frances, that I had probably brought way too much stuff with me.  I didn’t take nearly as much as some people, though.  I remember watching people load up their cars with TVs and other electronics, tons of clothes and toys, and loads and loads of other stuff.  I certainly can’t judge other people’s motivations, but a lot of that stuff looked replaceable to me.  Maybe none of their stuff was insured?? – who knows.

Anyway, it makes one think seriously about what would be absolutely necessary to take, and what wouldn’t be necessary because all that insurance could replace it.  Here’s my necessary/irreplaceable list:

  • The dog and his favorite toy.  I’d probably take dog food, but only because he eats twice a day and it might not be immediately convenient to find a store, as soon as I got where I was going. 
  • Family pictures.  These are all in one place, in photo boxes and a few albums – ready to grab and go.
  • Important papers.  These are all in one place too, in the fireproof safe.  It weighs a ton, but I can wrestle it into the back of the car.
  • A few clothes – a couple of shorts and T-shirts, a pair of pajamas, socks, sneakers, underwear – what am I missing??
  • My iron (see yesterday’s post).  🙂
  • My laptop and cell phone and their power cords.
  • My purse, which at all times contains my checkbook and both of my USB drives.
  • My prescriptions and the dog’s heartworm/flea medicine (that stuff is expensive, even from 1-800-PetMeds!).
  • My address book.  (I really need to put this on the computer – sounds like a good project for the next rainy Sunday afternoon.)
  • Toiletries.
  • The afghan my grandmother made 75 years ago and my childhood teddy bear (both in the same place – the cedar chest).

I really can’t think of anything else.  I figure all that would take me about an hour to get packed into the car, tops.  Then Ralph and I are on the road, well ahead of the people stuffing TVs into the back of their cars, who are going to be sitting in traffic on the interstate for hours because they had to take the time to pack so much stuff.


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