How and Why You Need a Home Inventory
Worried you’ll lose track of your stuff if anything should happen to it? A detailed, up-to-date home inventory can help you get organized, and may speed your claims process.
Quick take: How to do a home inventory
A home inventory helps you be as accurate as possible in the event of a personal property loss claim.
● There are numerous ways to conduct a home inventory including video, written, or with pictures or apps.
● Be sure to include all your valuables, from art and jewelry to firearms and collectibles.
● Don’t forget to include items in the basement or attic on your home inventory.
● Keep your home inventory safe. Make digital copies and store a hard copy someplace safe, such as a safe deposit box at a bank or back up to the cloud.
Q: I’m updating my home insurance policy and saw a recommendation to create a “home inventory.” There’s a ton of stuff in my home, so I’m not sure where to start. I’m hoping you can help: What does a home inventory typically include and how do I get started?
A: After a major incident resulting in loss of property, your stress level can go sky high. In fact, it can be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. Now, imagine having to recall, in as much detail as possible, every piece of personal property you may have lost. Stress, anxiety and grief can all cloud your memory, making it difficult to be sure you’ve listed every important piece of property on your insurance claim. An accurate and up-to-date home inventory can provide a helpful record of your belongings, and may save you a world of heartache during a difficult time.
How do I do a home inventory?
There are a few ways to keep track of your thorough home inventory.
- Write it down: To do a written home inventory, you’ll need to walk through your home and make a long, detailed list of your property. For each item, be sure to record the date it was purchased, the serial or model number if applicable, and the item’s value. If you have a receipt, note it on your inventory and keep it on file.
- Take pictures: To add dimension to your home inventory, take pictures of each item on your list. The picture should focus on the item itself, as well as any important details, such as a close-up of the setting on a piece of jewelry or the artist’s signature on a valuable painting.
- Shoot video: Another recommendation is to conduct your home inventory on video, because of level of detail you can achieve. It’s easy to do on your own with a smartphone. As you walk through your home recording each item, you can describe details, zoom in on jewelry settings and serial numbers, take video of any appraisals you may have for certain items, and so on. Plus, if you upload it to the cloud, it will be automatically saved with a date and time, which can be important for recordkeeping.
- There’s an app for that: Download the Sortly app on your iphone. This highly rated application is available for no charge for up to 100 items or $3.99/month for unlimited items. See sortly.com for more details or find it on the Apple app store.
“What should I include on my home inventory?”
First, I recommend recording every valuable, which could include art, jewelry, firearms, electronics, sports equipment, heirloom pieces such grandfather clocks, china and other collectibles.
For each of the major items, try to include a description, serial number if you have it, date purchased, along with purchase price or estimated or appraised value. If you have receipts, save copies with your inventory. When working with your insurance company on a claim to settle the personal property portion of a loss, any additional details you can provide are helpful.
Also, don’t forget the property in your attic and basement. The most overlooked items left off of a home inventory are usually found in the attic or basement because we tend to put things in boxes and forget about them. When doing an inventory, be sure to label the outside of the box with a list of the contents, and then record an image of those items.
Once you have a home inventory, make sure to keep it updated by adding new purchases to the list, and re-evaluating older items over time.
“What are the benefits of a home inventory?”
Aside from providing a record of your valuable items in case of a claim, a home inventory can be a great exercise to help you more accurately determine your property coverage needs. One thing I’ve noticed in more than 20 years of working on video inventories with customers: people often discover they aren’t comfortable with the amount of personal property coverage they have. Over the years, we accumulate more property than our policies might have covered when we first purchased them. Be sure to go over your home inventory with your agent in order to determine if you have enough coverage for everything that is important to you.
And don’t forget to think about where you store your inventory. If you opt for a written inventory with pictures, scan and save a digital copy or keep a hard copy in a safe deposit box outside of your home. Your home inventory does no good if it’s lost in a fire or other unforeseen event with all your valuables.