Do you know exactly what you own if you needed to file a claim after a fire or other disaster? Your homeowners or renters policy provides for contents coverage in the event that items are lost, damaged, or stolen…but do you have a record of everything you own in order to file a claim? If you have an up-to-date home inventory you will save time and be paid faster in the event of a claim. So how in the world do you document all of your worldly possessions? Let’s take a look at some recommendations from the Insurance Information Institute:
- Start small and easy. If your basement is like mine, it’s overrun with “stuff”, not a great place to start as you will immediately be overwhelmed. Start with a smaller, contained area such as your kitchen appliance cabinet; where you house your purse collection or that closet that contains all your photography equipment.
- Keep receipts of all new purchases and use the details for your inventory. I would scan receipts and store in a cloud-type service so you have an off-site copy for safekeeping.
- When assessing your wardrobe, list items by category. Instead of saying you have 1 pair Old Navy boot cut blue jeans; 1 pair Gap low-rise jeans, etc., list as “7 pairs of jeans; 18 sweatshirts; 45 t-shirts”. If you have clothing of great value, list these items individually.
- Keep track of serial numbers. For all electronic items (including appliances) serial numbers provide a wealth of information for your belongings and can help with calculating value.
- Take photos or video of your home. Having visual documentation helps when trying to remember what items may have been lost, stolen or destroyed. Open all cabinets, drawers, and closets. If you store items under beds or in crawl spaces, bring those out for documenting as well. Store a copy of the photos/video in a cloud-service.
- Check your insurance coverage…you may need to specifically insure high-value items such as art, tapestries, jewelry, electronics, etc.
- Be in the habit of updating your inventory with new purchases. Scan the receipts, record the serial numbers and take photos as soon as possible. Keep physical copies of receipts, warranties, etc. in a safe off-site location.
- Check your insurance coverage. After a home inventory, you may realize that your current homeowners/renters coverage is incorrect. You may be surprised by just how much you own or maybe you went through a purge and can reduce your coverage. Talk to your insurance agent to ensure you are properly covered.
- Be patient. If you’ve never built a home inventory before this is going to take some time; don’t think it all has to be done in one day. Look to technology for help, there are a number of apps available that can make creating and maintaining your inventory so much easier.