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The best evidence, obviously, is a receipt showing the date purchased, a description of the item, and the amount paid at the time of sale. How many of us, after a disaster, will have this kind of evidence for every item of loss? This is where you might try to think ahead in anticipation of the worst type of disaster.

We recommend you buy a "fire safe," a safe that will protect valuables in event of a fire intense enough to burn down the structure of your house and belongings. What should you keep in that fire safe? Obviously, any small valuables, deeds, titles, registrations, receipts, bills of sale, and other proof of your ownership and the value of your property.

What else should you have? Pictures of your property –– both personal and real. We all take pictures of our vehicles, whether during vacations, or the first day home with the new car. Put at least one of these pictures in the safe. Pick up your camera, walk around your house, and take four photographs facing each wall of every room, making sure you film each item of personal property.

Take pictures of the outside of your house (or building). Develop the film and place it in the safe. If you have a video camera, or can borrow one, videotape all of your property, and place the tape in your fireproof safe. Make a copy of this article and place it in your fire safe as well, since your computer may not be working in the event of disaster.

These suggestions are offered as a rough discussion of what you should do to make the best of a bad situation. If you follow our suggestions, the burden of a fair and quick adjustment falls on the insurance company. Depending upon which jurisdiction you are in, there may even be time limits in which the insurance company must respond with a fair settlement offer. If you have a small loss, by all means, try to negotiate with the adjuster yourself. For larger and more complex losses, find an attorney with the proper background.

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Waddell & Magan  •  P.O. Box 11330, Bozeman, Montana 59719  •  (406) 585–4145  •  Contact Us

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© 2016 Waddell & Magan. Ms. Magan is licensed in Montana and Texas, and Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law in the State of Texas. Mr. Waddell is licensed in Montana, Texas and Pennsylvania.*