Between years in business school, I worked for a real estate developer on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. He employed an insurance executive full time whose job was to find property and casualty coverage for his homes, artwork, and assorted toys, which were worth a bundle but unrelated to his business ventures. She sat just behind me, and on one occasion I overheard her arranging photo shoots.

Of course I asked, “Why.”

The camera crews videoed the boss’s possessions, she said. The films served as proof of what he owned, whether or not she had listed the specific items on his insurance policies. The videos were both fast and a relatively painless alternative to cataloging every last item. She kept the films in a safety deposit box.

Technology has improved exponentially, and you don’t need camera crews to film your assets for property-and-casualty policies. But this technique from a billionaire’s family office is still as relevant today as it was back then. I recommend that you walk through your home and use your cell phone to film your belongings for insurance claims—before there’s a problem.

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