Having your property lost in a disaster or stolen can be devastating. That is why it is essential to have comprehensive home insurance and a home inventory. Should you experience a loss, the task of making a list of everything you need to replace can be difficult if you must do it from memory.
A home inventory helps to detail all the items for an insurance claim. Therefore, people who do not have a written inventory before a loss rarely collect their full insurance benefits.
An inventory can also help you select the appropriate amount of coverage for your possessions when you buy or renew your home insurance policy. Additionally, a record of your assets may also help verify tax-deductible property losses.
Ideally, a home inventory is more than just a list of your belongings; it should include photos or a video of everything and receipts of major purchases such as furniture and electronics. After a disaster, the insurance company doesn’t simply issue a check for the amount of the homeowners, renters, or flood insurance policy. To collect, you must claim the damaged or destroyed items.
Here are some tips to help create your home inventory and be prepared should a disaster happen to you.
Create Your Home Inventory
It may seem like a daunting task to list everything in your home. But it’s actually easier than you might think. Here are some simple steps to help get you started.
- Start Small. Think of contained areas of your home, like the kitchen and its small appliances, or the garage and your tools. These are great starting points.
- Detail Your Latest Acquisitions. Begin with items you’ve most recently purchased. Then, make a habit of recording all new purchases in your inventory list. Along with your list, keep sales receipts to help verify the value of each item. Once you’ve listed the newer items, move on to older, undocumented possessions for your inventory.
- Record Serial Numbers. Serial numbers are helpful for any items you no longer have a receipt. Include serial numbers in your inventory list for electronics and major appliances.
- Categorize Clothing. Clothing can be difficult to itemize because of the number of items. It may be easier to record these in groups, such as “12 pairs of jeans.” Be sure to make a note of any especially valuable items.
- High-Value Items. Some items such as jewelry, collectibles, and artwork appreciate over time. Check with your agent on what steps you should take to ensure these items are adequately covered or should have additional coverage.
- Off-Site Assets. Don’t forget that property stored outside your home may be covered under your homeowners’ insurance policies. Be sure to include them as part of your inventory.
- Important Paperwork. Don’t forget financial and legal documents as well as identification. Replacing these can be difficult.
Once you’ve begun, it is important to keep at it until everything is cataloged. Don’t be discouraged. It may take more than one weekend but keep adding to your list until everything is documented. However, an incomplete inventory is much better than not having one at all.
Technology Can Help
There are tools available that can significantly help create a home inventory, including free, downloadable templates.
- Google Sheets Home Inventory Template
- Excel Home Inventory Templates
- Apple Numbers Home Inventory Templates
Several mobile phone applications are available that can help organize, store, and retrieve your inventory. Just be sure that you fully understand how the app works, so you can be confident that you know how to access the information when needed.
Related: Best iOS and Android Home Inventory Apps
Take Pictures and Videos
Walk through your home using your phone, taking photos or videos of everything. Pictures and videos are a quick and easy way to verify your property. When recording a video, walk slowly about each room and verbally describe the items as you record them.
Accuracy and Accessibility
Keeping your inventory up to date is vital whether it is in a spreadsheet, on your phone, computer, a video, or pictures. After completing your home inventory, make it a habit to update it immediately upon purchasing and discarding items. Furthermore, review your home inventory regularly for accuracy.
Finally, archive your home inventory away from your home so it cannot be destroyed in the same disaster that destroys your property. If you have an electronic inventory (computer file, video, or pictures), upload it to the cloud or a storage device away from your home. If your inventory is a pen-and-paper list, consider keeping it in a bank safety deposit box or with someone you trust who does not live in your residence. This way, your inventory is protected against potentially being lost, stolen, or destroyed.
Homeowners take out insurance policies on their properties for peace of mind. However, they also need to take steps to make sure they are covered should they fall victim to a loss.
Creating a home inventory and keeping it safe helps maximize your protection should something happen. To paraphrase an old adage, “It’s better to have a home inventory and not need it than to need a home inventory and not have it.”
ABC Dennis Insurance
ABC Dennis Insurance is an independent insurance agency established in 1997 that provides homeowners insurance to its customers. If you have not reviewed your insurance coverages this year, please call our office at (813) 949-7765 or email us.
Besides homeowners and renters insurance, we can help with all your insurance needs. As an independent agency, we find the best insurance coverage with the most competitive rates.