When thinking about the right insurance plan for your home, you can't have too much information. It's important for you to know the difference between types of policies, what coverages are provided, and what you'll need in case you ever have to file a claim. This is home insurance 201, the advanced class. Feel free to take notes.
The Importance of a Home Inventory
The Home Inventory
In the unfortunate event that you have to file a claim, it's critical that you have some record of what was lost or stolen. This is called a "home inventory" and it needs to be kept up to date. You should write down a list of your things, including a detailed description, purchase date and price paid. You can even download a free home inventory tool from the Insurance Information Institute at www.knowyourstuff.org.
Some people even augment their written home inventory by going through their home with a video recorder or camera. This can be helpful to reminding you of things you don't have receipts for and providing proof of ownership for your insurance company in the case of a claim.
You've made it, now stash it
Once you've done a home inventory, make sure you keep it somewhere safe and NOT at your place. This may seem like common sense, but only in hindsight to folks who have lost their stuff (and all of their records) in a fire.
Other home inventory resources
If you're not the pen and paper type, you can get software to help do this for you. A good collection of software resources are available from Download.com. Here is a direct link to the proper page.
Microsoft has a free home inventory template for users of its Access database software.
The basics of home insurance
Check out the following websites for information from experts about homeowners insurance.
The Wikipedia page on home insurance.
Information from the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association on homeowners insurance basics.
An EzineArticles page on the basics, plus links to more articles.
If you weren't already aware, your credit can impact your insurance rates. learn more (PDF) about credit score and insurance from the NAIC.
A comprehensive article on home insurance from HowStuffWorks.
From the Women's Financial Network, a full course on home insurance.
Getting a Quote
Next: Shopping for Policy
Homeowners have lots of little expenses that add up. The trips to Home Depot, property taxes, Louis XIV furniture... All the basics. Why not try to save money where you can?