After the Harvey disaster, we all became aware of the importance of a home inventory. Most of the time we don’t remember exactly what we have in our homes.
Creating and updating an inventory of your personal possessions is one of the best ways to make the most of your homeowners or renters insurance, and makes filing a claim easier and more efficient.
No matter how you choose to do it, the important thing is to take action. An up-to-date home inventory will:
Help you purchase the right amount and type of insurance. Having an accurate list of all your possessions helps you to have a more productive conversation with your insurance professional when making decisions about homeowners or renters insurance coverage. After all, if you don’t know what you have, how can you insure it adequately?
Make filing a claim as simple as possible. Most people cannot remember what they had for breakfast much less recall the contents of their attic, kitchen cabinets or downstairs closet after a fire, storm or other catastrophe. Disasters are scary and stressful, which can make trying to list damaged property for a claims form even more challenging. Having your belongings already documented in your home inventory can be a huge relief at times like these.
Substantiate financial losses for tax purposes or when applying for financial assistance. Following a catastrophe, the only way to determine whether you qualify for a tax break or disaster assistance is to substantiate your financial losses. A well-organized home inventory can be an extremely useful tool in this process.
Start Your Inventory Now
Pick an easy spot to start – A contained area—like your small kitchen appliance cabinet, your sporting equipment closet or your handbag shelf—is a great place to get started.
List recent purchases – Another way to start is with recent purchases—get into the inventory habit and then go back tackle your older possessions.
Include the basic information – In general, describe each item you record, and note where you bought it, the make and model, what you paid and any other detail that might help in the event you need to make a claim.
Count clothing by general category – For example, "5 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of sneakers…" Make note of any items that are especially valuable.
Record serial numbers – Usually found on the back or bottom of major appliances and electronic equipment, serial numbers are a useful reference.
Check coverage on big ticket items – Jewelry, art and collectibles may have increased in value and may need special coverage separate from your standard homeowners insurance policy. While you're making your home inventory list, check with your agent to make sure you have adequate insurance for these items before there is a loss.
Don't forget off-site items – Your belongings kept in a self-storage facility are covered by your homeowners insurance, too. Make sure you include them in your inventory.
Keep proof of value – Store sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals with your list.
Don't get overwhelmed – Once you've started your inventory, keep going even if you can't get it all done immediately. It's better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all.
Use technology to make your home inventory easier
A simple pencil and paper will suffice, but technology can make creating a home inventory much easier.
Take pictures – Create a photo record of your belongings. Capture important individual items as well as entire rooms, closets or drawers. Label your photos with what's pictured, where you bought it, the make or model—whatever information might be important to replacing and/or getting reimbursed for the item. Use your smartphone or digital camera—some give you the capability to put in the description of the item when saving the photo.
Tape it – Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. For example, you might describe the contents of a kitchen cabinet: "Poppies on Blue by Lenox, service for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl, cup and saucer. Purchased in 2015."
Use an app – There are many mobile app options that can help you create and store a room-by-room record of your belongings.
Keep your home inventory up-to-date and safely stored
Your home inventory is only useful if it's accurate and you can access it to provide information to your insurance company in case of fire, theft or other destructive disaster. Regardless of the medium you've used to create your list, keep it backed up and in a safe place.
Add significant new purchases to your list – Make it a habit to add the item information and receipts to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.
Store a copy of your paper inventory outside the home – Keep it—along with applicable receipts and appraisals—in a safe deposit box or at a friend's or relative's home. Make at least one backup copy of your inventory document and store it separately. An easy way to make digital backup copies of your paper list is to take pictures of it on your smartphone.
Backup digital files – Keep a copy on an external drive or online storage account.
Understand your app – Be sure the information you input is backed up by the app developer and that you know how to access information when you need it.
Dean and Draper
The best suggestion we found in this information is to get started now. When you wait for a time that is convenient, you may not get around to taking this inventory.
Dean& Draper is a Trusted Choice insurance agency representing over 200 insurance companies. For over 35 years we have offered a trusted freedom of choice to our clients. ContactUs.
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