Why You Need a Home Inventory List
In the event of a fire or other disaster or if stolen, would you be able to remember all your possessions? 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.
Insurance carriers will use this home inventory list to pay you. If you miss items or do not know the details, you may not get paid enough money, or may not get compensated at all. When you have a major claim, it is especially difficult to remember everything because so much is going on.
Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for your belongings at about 50 to 70 percent of the dwelling amount on your insurance policy. However, that standard amount may or may not be enough. In addition, there are limits on how much a homeowners insurance policy will cover for items such as jewelry, antiques, guns, collectibles, golf clubs, photography equipment, musical instruments. For example, jewelry coverage may be limited to under $2,000.
Check your policy (or ask your insurance agent) for the limits of your coverage for any expensive items. If your home inventory includes items for which the limits are too low, consider scheduling those items individually as an endorsement on your homeowner’s policy or directly on a special personal property policy.
Creating a Home Inventory List will you make these assessments and ensure you have the right coverage for ALL your property.
What is a Home Inventory List?
A home inventory list is a list of the items or personal belongings you have in your dwelling. The list can be categorized by room, type of item, collection, or other applicable criteria. A home inventory list should include as much of the following information for the items as possible:
• Make, Model or Serial number if applicable
• Description of the item
• Evaluations of items, Appraisals, or cost at the time of purchase
• Where the item was purchased
• Date of purchase
• Receipts or photos in an attachment if relevant
• May also include what you think it will cost to replace “today” if you have this information. (What you bought on sale, may not be on sale at the time of loss)
• Items which are antique, or irreplaceable should be discussed with your insurance representative to find out how to schedule them and how (or if) they will be paid in a claim
How to Start Creating your Home Inventory List Videos or Photos are a quick first step, and it will at least protect you until you have the time to document everything in a more itemized way. Go through entire rooms, specific areas, drawers, closets, and all items. If items have model numbers or serial numbers, take photos, or video them. Then use these to create your home inventory list as soon as you have time.
• Pick an easy spot to start – A contained area—like your small kitchen appliance cabinet, your sporting equipment closet or your handbag shelf—is a great place to get started.
• List recent purchases – Another way to start is with recent purchases—get into the inventory habit and then go back tackle your older possessions.
• Include the basic information – In general, describe each item you record, and note where you bought it, the make and model, what you paid and any other detail that might help in the event you need to make a claim.
• Count clothing by general category – For example, “5 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of sneakers…” Make note of any items that are especially valuable.
• Record serial numbers – Usually found on the back or bottom of major appliances and electronic equipment, serial numbers are a useful reference.
• Check coverage on big ticket items – Jewelry, art and collectibles may have increased in value and may need special coverage separate from your standard homeowners insurance policy. While you are making your home inventory list, check with your agent to make sure you have adequate insurance for these items before there is a loss.
• Keep proof of value – Store sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals with your list.
• Don’t get overwhelmed – Once you’ve started your inventory, keep going even if you can’t get it all done immediately. It’s better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all.
Use Technology to Make your Home Inventory Easier
• Take pictures – Create a photo record of your belongings. Capture important individual items as well as entire rooms, closets or drawers. Label your photos with what’s pictured, where you bought it, the make or model—whatever information might be important to replacing and/or getting reimbursed for the item. Use your smartphone or digital camera—some give you the capability to put in the description of the item when saving the photo.
• Video it – Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. For example, you might describe the contents of a kitchen cabinet: “Poppies on Blue by Lenox, service for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl, cup and saucer. Purchased in 2015.”
• Use an app – There are many mobile app options that can help you create and store a room-by-room record of your belongings. An example of a free good overall app is Sortly.
Sortly app does just about everything you want a home inventory app to do, with an emphasis on organizing and helping you when you move to a new home. Make sure the app has an export list feature in case the product or app goes out of business, you won’t lose it.
Keep your home inventory up-to-date and safely stored, not publicly accessible
Your home inventory is only useful if it is accurate and you can access it to provide information to your insurance company in case of fire, theft or other destructive disaster. Keep your list backed up and in a safe place.
• Add significant new purchases to your list – Make it a habit to add the item information and receipts to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.
• Store a copy of your paper inventory outside the home – Keep it—along with applicable receipts and appraisals—in a safe deposit box or at a friend’s or relative’s home. Make at least one backup copy of your inventory document and store it separately. An easy way to make digital backup copies of your paper list is to take pictures of it on your smartphone. DO NOT put your home address on it.
• Backup digital files – Keep a copy on an external drive or online storage account.
• Understand your app – Be sure the information you input is backed up by the app developer and that you know how to access information when you need it.
• Provide a backup to your insurance agent – Agency management secured systems store insured’s insurance documents. A secure, efficient place to keep a backup that is readily available if needed when a claim is made.
Ready to Review Coverages and Compare with your Inventory List? Contact our team today to set up an appointment for a review!