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I am considering to do a home-contents insurance. The insurance company lets me decide by myself on the upper bound for the insurance amount - they do not send an assessor. I do not have large valuable items - I have many small items, such as: books (about 1000), stocks of dried and conserved foods, as well as standard pieces of furniture that we got second-hand. I have no idea how to exactly compute the worth of all these items.

Naturally, I want the insured sum to be equal to the amount that the insurance company would pay me in case of total loss. But, I do not know how they compute this sum - they do not give details in the policy. Suppose, for the sake of example, that there is fire, and all property is lost. How exactly does the insurance company compute the sum to pay me? How do they know, for example, how many books I have, or how to evaluate the specific kinds of furniture that I had?

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If incur a loss, your damaged property will be the evidence. If it's a total loss such as a fire, you'll need to provide proof of ownership. Such proof would include:

  • Original receipts

  • Shipping receipts

  • Repair receipts

  • Credit card statements

  • Product serial numbers

  • Photos

  • An appraisal

All such documentation (original or copy) should be stored outside your home (safe deposit box, on the cloud, at a family/friend's house, etc.).

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    That feels utterly impractical. We have many thousands of non-trivial items in our home,. The expectation that all these can be documented and valued feels unreasonable. I agree that is maybe a thing to do for the "top 20" but that's not where the bulk of the value is.
    – Hilmar
    Oct 1, 2021 at 16:25
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    Saying that it's impractical doesn't change the fact that the insurance company will require proof of ownership if items are destroyed. They're not going to require proof of ownership of trivial items which are assumed to be in every home (paper clips, stationery, etc.). And it's assumed that every home has pots, pans, silverware, etc. Big ticket items need documentation. It's no big deal to take multiple pictures of every room and upload to the cloud, proving that you have 20 business suits or larger quantities of other everyday items that would be more costly to replace than paper clips. Oct 1, 2021 at 17:12
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    Read this: What Is Proof Of Loss In An Insurance Claim?. Oct 1, 2021 at 17:17
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    Opinion: Don't worry about insuring things that aren't either essential or hard or impossible to replace. I carry high liability insurance, and I have specific riders for the few things I'd be really heartbroken to lose, but beyond that all I expect my insurance to do is cover the house itself and enough stuff that I can live in it again when it's rebuilt. For all the rest, I'd rather self-insure.
    – keshlam
    Feb 23, 2023 at 22:28
  • @Hilmar Aha, that's one of the ways insurance "scams" you!
    – user253751
    Feb 23, 2023 at 23:32

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