AUSTIN (KXAN) – Losing everything you own due to a natural disaster is a nightmare. The worst part: insurance may not cover it. Meteorologist Nick Bannin wanted to learn how to better protect your home and your stuff. He spoke with Ryan Stokes with Property Damage Appraisers about the steps you need to take today to protect yourself in the future.

You can watch the interview above or read the transcript below to learn more:

NICK BANNIN, KXAN – Ryan before a storm or disaster even happens, how should people document what they have so that they’re covered in the event of disaster?

RYAN STOKES, PROPERTY DAMAGE APPRAISERS: Very, very important step that we all should be taking. The best way to do it is to walk through your house, everybody has a video phone, walk through your house, look at serial numbers on your appliances.

Video those high valuable items or high value items that don’t have serial numbers. Take video evidence of any furniture that is a high dollar, anything that’s handmade so that you can document it. Show what it looks like, show the condition that it is that it’s in today.

BANNIN – How frequently should you be doing this video process?

STOKES – We recommend twice a year. So usually we recommend during spring cleaning and fall.

BANNIN – If people don’t have that list, how do you go about trying to value?

STOKES – A lot of it’s just based on memory. And then if they can find any old photos that have maybe that appliance in the background, or that piece of furniture in the background. That process can sometimes drag on for weeks.

If they can’t find it, they end up reaching a settlement with the insurance company, which is usually less than what they anticipate just because they can’t prove that they actually own that piece.

BANNIN – What are some common mistakes people do when they attempt to document what they have in their home?

STOKES – Not thinking about those those items maybe that are hidden under the bed or that are hidden and drawer somewhere. And these are in the catastrophic situations where everything’s gone or your stuff is scattered across, you know your neighborhood, it’s really hard to reach a settlement with your insurance company when you don’t have any evidence to provide to them that you actually had that piece of property or you had that valuable item.

So list photos, invoices, anything along that line, (that can) aid in the process tremendously and help expedite the process so that you can get restored back to whole sooner.