Smartphones aren’t just for taking snaps of friends, family and pets for social media, they can come in super handy when making certain types of insurance claim, too.
For major home insurance claims, for example if your house is burgled, flooded or damaged by fire, your insurer will normally send someone out to assess the damage and take professional photos of the property. But, you can keep photographic evidence of smaller property damages such as leaking roofs, cracked pipes and any cases of accidental damage like broken windows and damage to soft furnishings.
Photos of your belongings also come in handy if you’re making an insurance claim after a theft. But, it’s worth noting that while photos can help prove your ownership of an item, it isn’t enough to tell the difference between a £5,000 necklace and a £15,000 necklace, for example, unless you’re an expert. Your insurer therefore needs a proper, up-to-date valuation of all your high-value items.
Photography tips for insurance purposes
In the aftermath of Storm Dennis earlier this year, the Association of British Insurers advised homeowners who had suffered flood or storm damage to list details of all damaged items and take photos of them wherever possible before moving them, in a bid to speed up insurance claims and help with the recovery process.
Likewise, if you’re making an accidental damage claim, such as a cracked sink, take pictures right away to record the damage. Also, take a video of the damage too, and of the room the damage is in. Note down the date and time of the accident and keep notes of how it happened. This will help your insurer to assess the damage, learn as much as they can about the loss and process your claim.
Create an inventory
As previously mentioned, when it comes to contents insurance, photos can’t prove the value of items but they can be useful for keeping track of what you own. Take photos of your belongings room-by-room to ensure you have them catalogued. Capture each item separately and take photos of the makes and model numbers of gadgets and appliances, which will be useful when validating the worth of the item. When saving your photos to your computer, laptop or phone, caption them with any serial numbers or important details, especially on your more expensive items. And remember, should you replace any items for newer, more expensive models, keep your photos and inventory up to date.
Cover all angles
Take lots of snaps from multiple vantage points to ensure you capture all aspects of your damaged property. Also, make sure you don’t just provide close-up shots, give the damage context by taking wide angle shots of the whole room or building. This will help your insurer to assess the scale of the damage. Chances are, your insurer will only ask you to send over one or two images but it’s good having additional shots saved, just in case they ask for more evidence.
Consider the sun
If you’re taking photos outside, for example to record damage to roofs, windows, walls or doors, check the position of the sun. For the best pics, the sun will be behind you so that it shines onto the subject of your photo. If it’s in front of you, you’ll capture the glare of the sun, leaving your subject in silhouette and no detail will be visible.
Hold it steady
Smartphones are excellent tools but often the cameras can be fiddly to use and sensitive to even the slightest movement. If you’re taking pictures of property damage, take care to hold the camera as steady as possible and, if your hands are prone to shaking, try propping it up on a table or wall for extra stability. Also remember, you have multiple attempts to get the shot right, so don’t rush. Take your time until you achieve the best photo you can.
Don’t take risks
And finally, it goes without saying that you should never attempt to take photographs if there’s any risk to your health or safety. Exercise common sense and, if in any doubt, vacate the property and summon appropriate help.