(BPT) – Let the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season begin. Sales in November and December are expected to increase 3.9 percent over last year to $602.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. However, with holiday purchases comes the risk of theft.
From 2012 to 2013, consumers reported 10,755 theft claims to Nationwide Insurance during November and December.
“We wish all our members a safe and happy holiday season spent with loved ones and filled with wonderful memories,” says Associate Vice President of Claims Pete Lore. “Unfortunately, we do have to recognize that theft does occur during this time of year. Conducting a home inventory is a quick and easy task that can prevent headaches down the road.”
This year’s expected increase in holiday shopping is all the more reason for consumers to conduct a proper home inventory. In the event a home theft occurs, an inventory can help ensure you are properly protecting your new belongings. However among 1,005 American adults 18 and older who hold a homeowners and condo insurance policy, 44 percent admitted they neither document nor keep track of their belongings, according to a Nationwide Insurance survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive in May 2013.
Popular holiday gifts – jewelry/watches (48 percent) and electronics (46 percent) – are reported stolen most often, according to the survey.
Nationwide recommends taking home inventories before leaving on trips and after the holidays to account for new purchases. To complete a thorough inventory, take these steps:
* Use home inventory software. The Insurance Information Institute has a free online program that allows you to catalog all your belongings. It is available at www.knowyourstuff.org.
* Move from room to room, listing items as you go. Consider using this same order every time you update the inventory. Don’t forget to include the items in your basement, attic, garage and any detached structures, such as a tool or storage shed.
* Use your credit card and checking account statements to confirm purchases if needed.
* Look for manuals on the items that will help with model numbers and verification of ownership.
* Work with your agents to complete the inventory. Call your agent if you are unsure if an item is covered by your insurance policy.
* Share the list with a trusted friend or family member in the event you can’t access the inventory or keep a copy in a bank safe deposit box or other secure location away from your home.
* Update your coverage. Share your inventory list, including your new gifts, with your agent to help you make sure that you have the coverage that you need.
For more information on how to keep your home safe and what to do in the event home theft occurs, visit the Safety and Care page or contact your local agent. Consumers can also test their theft-prevention knowledge by taking Nationwide’s theft quiz.