Easy, Simple Ways to Protect Your Valuable Papers & Treasured Family Photos

November 25, 2014

protect valuable papers photos

image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

At Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, we have found that after a major home fire at home, one of the toughest losses is to a family’s personal treasures. We are certainly there for them with insurance on their building and contents, but there are items in every home that are more valuable for the wonderful memories they arouse than their monetary value.

Plus, when it comes to valuable papers such as deeds, birth and death certificates, and military records, it may be an arduous process to reapply for duplicates. So, what should you do about preserving your valuable papers and family photos? Which papers should you protect and where should you keep them? Is there any insurance for these items?

Your homeowners insurance policy does offer you some coverage. There is just $200 on money and bank notes and “$1,000 on securities, accounts, deeds, evidences of debt, letters of credit, notes other than bank notes, manuscripts, passports, tickets and stamps.” (Text in quotes taken directly from the policy.)

However, there’s a better way to protect your valuable papers and photos.

Which Valuable Papers Should You Protect in a Safe Deposit Box?

As you probably know, a safe deposit box is the best way to protect your valuable papers from destruction in a fire or major windstorm. But which papers should you place in a safe deposit box?

We went to the US Government General Services Office website for answers. Check out this page on Keeping Family/Household Records where you’ll find terrific advice on what to keep, for how long, and how to organize it.

For our purposes, here’s a list of items you should place in a safe deposit box at your local bank.

 Safe Deposit Box

  1.  Birth Certificates
  2.  Citizenship Papers
  3.  Marriage Certificates
  4.  Adoption Papers
  5.  Divorce Decrees
  6.  Wills
  7.  Death Certificates
  8.  Deeds
  9.  Titles to Automobiles
  10.  Household Inventory
  11. Veteran’s Papers
  12.  Bonds and Stock Certificates
  13.  Important Contracts

Notice how all of these items take some time to replace. And notice that your insurance policies aren’t listed here. That’s because your agent or company has your insurance records and policies on file with them.

We think it’s a good idea, though, to list your life insurance policies and add that list to your safe deposit box. That’s because these policies may have been paid up long ago and after death may be forgotten.

How to Protect Your Family’s Photographic Memories

It seems that in every news interview of a family devastated by a fire or wind loss, the thing that is the most upsetting is the loss of the photos. They contain reminders of good times gone by that can’t be replaced.

Here’s what you can do to protect your photos from a major loss. First you can digitalize old photos by scanning them with your own flatbed scanner or taking the most important ones to a professional for scanning and digitalizing.

While you scan your photos, you can burn them to a CD or DVD. Also, think about archiving them online. This way, they’d be preserved and available to the whole family to enjoy.

We have also noticed a couple of professional services available here in the Utica area for organizing and preserving photos. Look around for a qualified professional near you.

For a small investment in time and money, you can rest assured that your valuable papers and photos are protected and available no matter what happens to your home and its contents.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000.