From the May 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

It's not enough to have insurance. If you file a claim, you need to tell the insurance company exactly what you've lost and how much it was worth. "An insurance policy is designed to protect what you have, but if there is no way to define that, [it's] a nightmare," says Lance Mayfield, a Farmers insurance and financial services agent in Viburnum, Missouri.

Providing a detailed record of your furnishings, equipment, supplies, inventory and raw materials will expedite your claim, ensure you're paid everything you're entitled to, and speed up the disaster recovery process, Mayfield says.

When Maryville, Illinois, entrepreneur Jeff A. Counton reviewed his assets, he realized how difficult it would be to prove what he owned. So he founded Catalog Your Assets LLCand developed an asset management software program and an instructional DVD that allow businesses and homeowners to easily document what they own and share that information with insurance agents.

Mayfield says that whether you use an electronic program like Counton's or just create thorough paper records, the key is to gather, organize and document all your information, then create a duplicate to store off-site. When you're done, you'll know if you have sufficient coverage, and you'll be able to settle claims more accurately and efficiently.

Jacquelyn Lynn is a freelance business writer in Orlando, Florida.