Experiencing a disaster, such as a home robbery, fire, or nasty storm, can put in perspective the sheer amount of personal belongings you have. Unfortunately, many homeowners wait until a claim happens to try to take an inventory of their items, which is why you should record your possessions before you need to make a claim.
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What Is A Home Inventory?
A home inventory is a record of all your personal property and the value of each. Whether you keep a written list, video, or photos of your items, they would all be considered a home inventory. You must keep an inventory of all your possessions for claim purposes.
A great way to determine what would be considered your personal belongings is to picture lifting your home and turning it upside down. Anything that would fall out should be recorded on your inventory, especially the items of high value.
It is recommended that if you make a written list, either take a photo of it or store it in digital format in case of a fire. A list will not be beneficial if it gets burned.
Reasons to Make A Home Inventory
There are many reasons why you should keep a record of your home inventory. You likely will be unable to remember every item you own, especially in the middle of a disaster. Additionally, the following are important reasons to make a home inventory.
Helps Determine Your Proper Coverage Type and Amount
Over time, as you live in your home longer and acquire more items, your coverage amount may need to be changed. Add to that more valuable items like electronics, antiques, or family heirlooms, and having a list will allow you to provide some documentation when the time comes.
Making decisions about homeowner’s or renter’s insurance coverage is easier when you have an accurate list of your possessions and values. Without a list of your personal belongings, you will be unable to come up with the right coverage amount. You don’t want to discover that you are underinsured at claim time.
Creates a Smoother Claims Process
In the middle of a claim due to a storm, fire, or any other disaster covered by your homeowner’s insurance, the last thing you need is the stress of remembering all of the items you have purchased.
A detailed list of your home inventory will ensure that the claims process is handled quickly and efficiently. Also, having a value associated with each item will help the insurance adjuster with a starting point, at the very least.
Tax Break Substantiation
A catastrophe qualifies you for a tax break or disaster assistance if you can substantiate your financial losses. Having a documented home inventory will make getting those tax breaks much easier on you and your accountant.
What to Include In A Home Inventory
It is best to take photos or videos of all the items in your home and keep a list along with values. If you want to keep a list of only more valuable items, that is an option too, but remember that the fewer items you record, the more you will have to remember at claim time.
At the very least, keep a list of the following items and their values, dates of purchase, and brand. After all, a name-brand TV will cost more to replace than a generic brand. It is recommended that you separate your list of items by each room, so it is not overwhelming.
- Electronics, including TVs, computers, and gaming systems
- Kitchen inventory
- Pictures or art
- Shoes and accessories
- Outdoor furniture, including grill
How to Make A Home Inventory
It may seem overwhelming, but creating a home inventory does not have to be stressful. Your insurance company may be able to give you some direction or advice on how to complete and store your inventory. It may be as simple as walking through your home and taking photos or a video or making a list.
We recommend that you first start with a list of rooms in your home. Going room by room can make it seem less daunting. Then, do the following to ensure you have a complete list of your personal belongings, which you will be thankful for during a claim.
Create a Plan
Understand that you may not get your home inventory done in one day. After all, you are recording your entire lifetime’s worth of accumulation. Schedule a couple of hours each day for about a week to complete it. That way, it is spread out and not stressful.
Make a Checklist
Start out using a checklist. First, you want to ensure that each room in your home is accounted for. Don’t forget to include the garage and outside. Then try to determine what items may be more valuable, as these will need better descriptions to justify their worth to the insurance adjuster.
Take Videos and Photos
When your checklist is ready, go through your home, one room at a time, and take photos of your possessions. You should also take a video. That way, if one of these digital files gets damaged, deleted, or lost, you have more than one option. Plus, taking a video minimizes your chance of missing something much more than photos.
Store Your Inventory Somewhere Safe
You have many options for storing your home inventory, but your home is not the best. Be sure to use a digital option like the cloud or an external hard drive kept off the premises. You may also download an app that can store home inventory lists. Either way, avoid using a pen and paper, as this can get lost in a fire or storm.
Confirm Your Homeowners Policy Covers All Your Needs
Now that you have your list make sure your homeowner’s insurance policy provides coverage for your personal property, and ensure that it is at replacement cost. If your policy provides an actual cash value, talk to your insurance company about it because what you will get for your items may be less than you expect. Be sure to check that your coverage limit is enough, annually at a minimum.