Experiencing a natural disaster is extremely difficult for anyone, but for someone with dementia it may be especially traumatic. Emotional toll aside, their property may suffer some degree of damage – and hopefully, it will be covered by insurance. But you don’t need to leave it to chance or be surprised during a crisis:  take steps now to ensure there is adequate insurance protection for completely rebuilding the home in the event it is destroyed, and for replacing the contents of the home should that prove necessary.

How to Get Started:

Review the following questions – and then contact your loved one’s insurance professional for help with any questions you’re not sure about.

  1. Does the homeowners insurance cover flooding? (Standard homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding.) How does the policy define “flood”? What type of water damage is covered?
  2. How can flood coverage be obtained? Can coverage be obtained immediately, or is there a waiting period?
  3. Are there any exclusions or separate deductibles for specific perils, such as wind or hail?
  4. Is earthquake covered? If not, can earthquake coverage be added?
  5. Is sewage backup covered?
  6. Is there coverage if the sump pump fails?
  7. Is there coverage for food spoilage in the event of power failure?
  8. Is there coverage if a power surge damages the TV or computer?
  9. Are there valuable items that should be insured for their appraised value on a special endorsement (also known as a rider or floater)?
  10. Are there any discounts available if special preparations for a disaster are made, such as installing wind-resistant shutters or earthquake retrofitting?

Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time may make the return home after a disaster less overwhelming. Here are tips to working with your loved one’s insurance company in the wake of a disaster.

For more disaster preparedness information to help family caregivers who care for someone with dementia, review our disaster preparation guidebook.

How to Create a Home Inventory

If you experience a disaster and need to file a claim with an insurance company, it will be extremely helpful to have a completed inventory of your possessions. After the disaster, you’ll contact the insurance company to report details of the loss – but what will you tell them if you can’t remember what was in the house? If you have completed a home inventory, you’re way ahead of the game! Here’s how you can start:

Take a pen and paper. Find a seat and close your eyes. Now list everything in your home. An impossible task?  Consider how hard it would be to do this after your home had taken a major hit in a disaster, and many or most of your possessions were gone.

What Is a Home Inventory?

A home inventory is simply a record of the contents of your home. The record can be in writing, on video, or a series of labeled photos. What’s most important is that a home inventory can serve as the basis for preparing a complete statement of losses if a disaster should strike, helping to get a claim processed more easily and quickly.

Steps to Creating a Home Inventory

How you go about creating a home inventory is up to you. But for most of us, starting simply will make the process less daunting. These tips from the Insurance Information Institute can help you create a home inventory so filing an insurance claim is much easier. The more detail you include, the better.

The easiest approach

Use video.  Today, almost all cell phones have a video feature, making it easy to create your home inventory. Go room-by-room to create a visual record of your belongings. Look for hidden stuff – be sure to open drawers and cabinets.  Don’t forget to include the basement, attic, garage, and outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture.

A little more time-consuming

Do the same thing using a still camera; your cell phone likely has one of these, too.

When you’re ready to go a step further

Create a written list to accompany your visual record, or label individual photos. Include the brand name, make, model, serial number, and date of purchase of major items, as well as their estimated value. Want to save time? Have a partner jot down these details while you create the visual documentation.


Enhance your inventory with receipts. Even if you haven’t done so in the past, start to keep receipts for any valuable items purchased. The more information you have, the better.


Store the documentation – whether it’s on video, in photos (digital or paper) or copies of them – away from the home in a secure location. This could be in a safe deposit box or with a friend or relative – preferably one who does not live in an area that is prone to the same natural disasters. Keep a copy of the documentation with you.


Update the visual or written record periodically, especially after purchasing a big-ticket item or receiving a gift of significant value.

The hassle of preparing a home inventory will be more than worth it if you ever experience a significant loss. For more information, review our disaster preparation guidebook.