Property insurance refers to an insurance policy purchased on any property an insured party may own, such as personal belongings, automobiles, art or real estate, for example. In the US, some types of property insurance may be required due to state legislation — such as car insurance — or by banks or lenders who hold a promissory note on the item or property — such as car insurance or homeowner's insurance. Insuring personal property or real estate requires a property insurance estimate of the item or items' combined value in order to purchase a policy with enough coverage to replace any loss. A property insurance estimate is available from many sources including free Internet calculators, purchased software programs, public tax records and professional appraisers. The cost for a property insurance estimate can range from free to an amount commensurate with usual fees for professional services.
A homeowner's insurance policy typically covers the replacement cost of the structure in addition to some of the personal property contained within the home. If a home contains particularly expensive or valuable items, insurance brokers recommend a property insurance estimate and an additional policy to cover these items. This type of personal property insurance is similar to renters' insurance, where only the items contained within a structure are covered. A policy amount is purchased based on a general or specific item-by-item property insurance estimate. Particularly valuable items — such as jewelry, antiques and art — may require appraisal by an expert in the field to complete the property insurance estimate.
Free Internet sites, certain computer programs and insurance experts can all help you complete a property insurance estimate. Some insurance agents recommend a photographic record, or inventory, of all household items in a room-by-room process. The advent of digital photography has made this a less expensive and daunting documentation process than the former paper scrapbook methods. Some experts recommend maintaining or photographing the cover of owners' manuals to further document ownership. Photographs documenting property ownership should be stored in one or more areas entirely separate from the residence and belongings.
A real estate property insurance estimate can be obtained from several different sources, depending upon what function the estimate will serve. Public tax records will contain past and present property value assessments that are used to calculate property taxes. A real estate appraisal firm can provide you with a property value estimate based upon a property's specific characteristics and the value of nearby tracts. A good approximation — if not an extremely educated guess — can often be obtained from area real estate agents.