How and why to create a home inventory

By Higginbotham on May 25 , 2017

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Imagine what would happen if a fire or other catastrophe destroyed your home tomorrow. You would need to file an insurance claim as soon as possible, and you would need a list of everything you lost to make sure you received proper compensation. But creating this list from memory would be difficult to say the least, especially when you’re still dealing with the trauma of the fire. It would be much better if you had the list already.

No one likes to think about the possibility of a fire or other disaster destroying their home. It’s not a pleasant topic, but it’s something we should all prepare for. Buying insurance to cover any losses is an important step. Creating a home inventory is another.

Make a list of your belongings.

It will take some time to create a complete home inventory, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Get the entire family involved. You might even have fun going through all your belongings and the memories attached to them.

To make sure you don’t miss anything, go from room to room. Start with expensive items, but don’t leave out the smaller items, as these add up. Your inventory will include electronics, furniture, kitchenware, books, collections, art, decorations, jewelry, clothes, shoes, purses and anything else of value in your home. When relevant, include information on the brand, model and purchase date.

Use pictures.

Pictures are a great way to provide a lot of detail quickly. Use your phone to snap photos of the items in your inventory. Try to include as much information as possible in the pictures. For example, if you’re taking a picture of electronics, make sure it shows the brand and model. If you’re taking picture of designer clothing, show the tag.

Use an app.

You can create your home inventory with a simple spreadsheet, but if you’d rather use something more technologically advanced, there are several apps available.

  • Know Your Stuff is a free home inventory tool from the Insurance Information Institute.
  • Binary Formations produces a home inventory tool for Macs.
  • Encircle has a home inventory system for homeowners as well as professional tools for property managers, hospitality professionals, risk managers and more.
  • Memento Database helps you organize and analyze countless types of data, including your home inventory.

Note expensive or rare items.

If you have expensive jewelry, fine art, rare books or anything else that is especially valuable, you should talk to your insurance agent about these items. You may need to get the items appraised and set up a “schedule” to designate specific coverage limits.

Keep it safe.

You’ll need this home inventory if your home is destroyed, so make sure it won’t be destroyed with the house. One way to do this is to keep a digital list that’s stored online. You can do this by using one of the apps mentioned previously, or you can use a cloud-based system, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. If your list is in printed format only, store it in another building or in a fireproof safe.

Keep it updated.

Once you’ve created your inventory, your work isn’t done. Assuming you buy new items in the future, you’ll have to update your inventory occasionally. You can make it annual tradition, for example, every New Year’s or spring. Also, whenever you buy an expensive item, like a new television or a nice painting, add it to your inventory.

Do you need homeowners insurance? Learn more about our individual coverage options and contact us for a quote.


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