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If you ever find yourself making a home or tenant insurance claim opens a pop-up with definition of claim, your insurer opens a pop-up with definition of insurer will likely ask you to provide some form of “proof of ownership” for whatever items need to be replaced. In other words, you’ll need to document all of your lost or damaged belongings so your insurer can properly compensate you. Sound overwhelming? Don’t worry. We’ve got the answers to your questions — plus some simple ways you can get prepared before you need to make a claim.

What is proof of ownership?

In the home insurance world, “proof of ownership” is any document that provides details about an item that was lost or damaged, which now needs to be replaced.

If you make a home insurance claim, your insurer will likely ask you to provide proof of ownership for the lost or damaged items that need to be replaced. Here’s how to make sure you’re prepared.

What counts as proof of ownership when you’re making a claim?

Every insurer has its own requirements, but generally speaking, any of the following documents could be used as proof of ownership in a home or tenant insurance claim:

  1. The original receipt or an electronic copy (if you can’t find the original, try requesting a new copy from the retailer)
  2. The email receipt for an online purchase
  3. A photo of the item
  4. Bank or credit card statement
  5. A certificate, evaluation, or appraisal
  6. A record of the item’s serial number
  7. A warranty or guarantee document
  8. An operating manual or packaging

How can you show proof of ownership for a gift?

It’s pretty likely that some of your most prized possessions were gifts — which means you probably don’t have their receipts. If you need to prove ownership of a gifted item, try asking the gift giver for the receipt, or see if you can find the original owner’s manual, packaging, or a photo of the item.

What happens if you can’t show proof of ownership for an item when you make a claim?

Generally speaking, you’ll always be required to provide a list of your damaged belongings when you make a claim, even if you don’t have proof of ownership for every item. If you don’t have proof of ownership for an item, your insurer will usually pay your claim based on the average replacement cost opens a pop-up with definition of replacement cost for a similar product. If your insurer pays you the replacement cost of an item, the dollar amount you receive will be equal to the cost you’d need to replace that item with a new, similar product of like kind and quality.

In this case, if the item you had was of higher quality (and higher than average price), you might not be able to replace it with the exact same model when you receive your payout. Providing proof of ownership can make a big difference in the amount of money you receive after you make a claim.

We understand that it can be difficult to keep records of everything you own, especially if you’ve been living in the same place for a while. If you don’t have proof of ownership for an item that needs to be replaced, talk to your claims representative to see what they can do to help.

How can you prepare proof of ownership for your stuff before the unexpected happens?

When you’re in the middle of making a claim, the last thing you should be worried about is tracking down receipts from purchases you made years ago. There are a few things you can do right now to make your life a little easier in the event that you need to make a claim in the future:

  1. Take a thorough home inventory. Whether you choose to download a home inventory app or use our fillable home inventory sheet, having a thorough home inventory is probably the most comprehensive way to document everything you own. Bonus tip: After you take your inventory, review your policy limits to make sure your coverage is up to date, then talk to your group’s home insurance broker to make any necessary updates.
  2. Take photos of everything in your home. Walk through each room and snap photos that capture all of your stuff. Make sure the photos are dated and detailed enough to show the condition of your belongings.
  3. Keep digital copies of all documentation. Make sure you save all of your proof of ownership documents in a digital format in case you can’t access paper copies at the time of your claim. Bonus tip: Consider keeping an album on your phone specifically for photos of paper receipts and other documents you might use for proof of ownership.