Your possessions often have a sentimental value that’s higher than their price tag. Could you remember them all if you were to move or lose your belongings in a fire or burglary? Creating a home inventory will speed up the process of filing an insurance claim and replacing your possessions.
What Is a Home Inventory?
A home inventory is a complete list of all the items in and around your home. An effective inventory includes pictures, descriptions, and monetary amounts of your belongings. Adding as much detail as possible to your inventory can create a comprehensive list to provide to your insurance company to maximize your coverage if damage or theft occurs.
Your inventory list should feature the following information for each item:
● Any appraisals that occurred at the time of purchase, especially if you had an item undergo an appraisal specifically for insurance purposes
● The estimated replacement cost if you were to replace the item today
● Date of purchase as well as any receipts or a general count of items
● Photographs of the item
● The item’s make, model, and serial number
● An in-depth description of the item
You can also add a home appraisal to your inventory to confirm the value of your home in case of unexpected events. Even if it hasn’t experienced damage since you moved in, residential properties depreciate by 3.636% annually, so you’ll need an updated calculation for any insurance claims.
How Can You Create a Home Inventory?
You can create a home inventory anytime by following this general process. Starting these tips before disaster strikes will make responding to emergencies less stressful and streamline your insurance claims.
1. Create Folders
Start the home inventory process by doing a walk-through of your home, stopping to create physical or digital folders for each room. Make sure to include hallways and utility rooms in your inventory.
Your home inventory should also include any items at storage facilities and buildings that may not be connected to your home, such as garages. If your inventory includes everything down to the smallest detail, you’ll have the most accurate information to maximize your coverage.
2. List Your Items
Start a list for every folder you create. Write out every item present in the room, including clothing, electronics, artwork, and hobby items. Your inventory should include all items present regardless of their value.
Referring to past receipts may help you determine an item’s value. You could also get something appraised if you inherited an object or found an antique at a flea market.
Remember, the value of something you bought from a flea market or thrift store might be much higher than you paid. The resale industry was worth $177 million for apparel alone in 2022 because people can make a substantial sum off a mispriced, older item. An expert appraiser will know exactly how much something’s worth so your home inventory list is as accurate as possible.
3. Add Details About Each Item
As you create your list, add detailed notes describing each item. This information might include a serial number or the store where you purchased the item. You should also include how many of each item you own. The total sum adds up to the value they add to your property and the cost to replace them. Your insurance company will need to know that to provide payment for anything that was stolen or damaged.
4. Include Documents
If you still have receipts, especially from larger purchases such as appliances, storing them in the folders is a good idea. You can also keep appraisals for jewelry and art. For an additional level of security, scan the documents and create a digital copy while storing the paper copies in the folders.
Remember, digital theft and software glitches happen every day. A digital copy isn’t safe just because it’s in a folder on your desktop computer. Protect your inventory and document roster by uploading copies to cloud storage that uses multi-factor authentication (MFA) log-in methods. Experts estimate that MFA blocks 99.9% of automated cyberattacks, so it’s an essential step you can take in just a few minutes to protect your most valuable documents.
5. Take Photos
As you go through each room, take pictures of the space and the items present. You can also take photos of serial numbers to use later if you need to file a claim. Printing a copy of each photo provides an extra set of records but may cost too much money for your budget. If that’s the case, save your photos to cloud storage, external hard drives, or thumb drives so you never lose the only copy you own.
6. Record a Video
You can take a video tour of your home for an even more thorough inventory. Recording a video is a great way to supplement your pictures to verify the content of your home further. Walk slowly and talk clearly so the video footage is easy to follow. You should also narrate which rooms you’re in and what the camera’s looking at because your insurance provider won’t know the interior layout of your home when verifying your claims.
7. Create a Duplicate Copy of Your Inventory
Once you complete your home inventory, make copies of everything. Store the original document somewhere safe in your home and keep the backup document somewhere else, such as in a safety deposit box.
An updated deposit box may even have a biometric lock that scans your fingerprint. Fingerprint scanners have a 98.8% effectiveness rate, so it’s an easy way to keep lockpicking criminals out of the safe holding your home inventory list.
Making a digital copy is also wise if you prefer physical lists. With duplicate copies, you should always have access to your inventory. Just ensure they’re in a safe digital storage place like an external hard drive or cloud storage protected by MFA.
8. Update Your Inventory as Needed
Update your inventory each time you acquire a new item or discard old ones. Maintaining your home inventory is vital to ensure it’s accurate when the need for documentation arises. Consider adding reminders to your annual calendar to update your inventory every six months or whenever your home’s more at-risk, like during hurricane season.
The Importance of Taking an Inventory of Your Home
Beyond making insurance claims easier, having a home inventory is vital for your own peace of mind. Explore some of the top benefits of taking a home inventory.
Ensuring Your Coverage Amount Is Accurate
Whether you’re purchasing rental insurance for your first apartment or renewing your coverage for a house, you’ve lived in for decades, creating a home inventory can aid in validating whether you have enough coverage for your personal property.
Saving Time on Claims
While creating an inventory list cannot offer complete protection against unexpected events such as a fire or burglary, it can make filing claims less stressful. A detailed list of all your items lets you quickly transfer the information to a claim and get replacements sooner.
Clearing the Clutter
As you create an inventory, you can also take some time to downsize and declutter your home. You may have five winter jackets and one or two you wear. Or you could find a kitchen appliance you put into a cupboard and never thought about again. Taking inventory can help you better understand which items you want to have around and which are no longer necessary for your home.
Keep Track of Your Personal Belongings Through a Home Inventory
Whether you’re moving, remodeling your home, or want to prepare for the unexpected, having an updated home inventory is a great way to ensure an accurate record of your possessions. An inventory list can grant you greater peace of mind and ease the stress of filing a claim if the unexpected occurs, so take the time to make one if you haven’t.