Your house is filled with the things that make it home. Every item in your home either helps you accomplish necessary tasks or brings you comfort. But, if asked, could you name every single item that you own? You’d remember essential things, like your pots and your couch. But what about that bracelet you occasionally wear or that CD you haven’t listened to in a while? If your home burns down, gets robbed or suffers another covered incident, you will have to list your possessions to get the right payout from your insurer.
In order to do this, you must take a home inventory. Sounds tedious, right? Unfortunately, there’s no way around it; taking inventory is a tedious process. But you’ll be thankful you spent a boring afternoon if the time comes for you the use the home inventory. Such a tool streamlines the claims process and allows quicker, more complete restoration of your property after a covered event.
You can handwrite this list or type it (many people prefer to use Microsoft Excel). Either way, take your notepad or laptop/tablet and walk your home, room by room. Write down every single item that you consider valuable and would want replaced if lost or damaged. Focus on items such as furniture, electronics, appliances, media collections, kitchenware, clothing, artwork and other items of value. You can ignore that old pair of worn sneakers and those stained mugs that need replacing anyway.
For each item you list, write a short description, the estimated dollar value, manufacturer/brand information, model number and take a photograph. Some items, such as a collection of DVDs won’t need individual pictures, so use your best judgment.
Once you’ve listed everything (pat yourself on the back!), you’ll need to compile the information into a file, which can be physical or digital. Gather all of your inventory notes and pictures with all receipts from high-dollar items, such as a TV or piece of furniture. If you didn’t save any receipts, it’s a good idea to start saving them going forward.
If your file is physical, make several copies and distribute them to your insurance agent, a trusted friend or family member, your safety deposit box and/or a fire safe in your home. This will protect your inventory in cases of extreme loss or destruction. You may even consider scanning into your computer to store in your email or on a cloud drive, which you can also do if your file was digital to begin with.
Revisit your inventory at least once a year to add any recent purchases, particularly expensive items. An up-to-date home inventory is the best support for your homeowners or renters insurance policy.