Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.
Start by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting where you bought it as well as its make and model. Clip to your list any sales receipts, purchase contracts and appraisals you have. For clothing, count the items you own by category (pants, coats, shoes, etc.), making notes about those that are especially valuable. For major appliances and electronic equipment, record the serial numbers, which are usually found on the back or bottom.
- Don’t put it off. If you are just setting up a household, starting a home inventory list can be relatively simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can be daunting. Still, it’s better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all. Start with recent purchases, then try to remember what you can about older possessions.
Create a digital record. Use your computer or mobile device to make your inventory list. There are many software options and mobile apps that can help you create a room-by-room record of your belongings.
Take a picture. You can also take pictures of rooms and important individual items to have a visual record of your belongings. On the back of the photos, note what the picture shows and where the items came from. Don’t forget things in closets or drawers. If you use your phone or a digital camera, you may also be able to add a description of the item when saving the photo.
Videotape it. Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. Or, do the same thing with a tape recorder. This can be useful for items such as clothing or kitchenware. You can simply open a kitchen shelf or closet and describe the contents. For instance, in the kitchen, it would be sufficient to state that you have a set of dishes for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, etc., with when and where you purchased the set.
Re-evaluate big-ticket items. Valuable items like jewelry, artwork and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately, and it is important that your insurance company knows about these items before there is a loss.
Storing your list
Regardless of how you create your list, keep a record of your home inventory. If it’s a physical document, store it in your safe deposit box, or at a friend’s or relative’s home. If it is a digital file, make sure to back it up and keep a copy on an external drive or online storage account. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.
Jason Willett is a consultant with CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer.