If you had to remember every item in your house, would you be able to do it? Chances are you’d miss at least a couple things.
You’ll have to do this if your belongings are destroyed and you want to file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance.
The easiest way to keep track of your things is to create a home inventory list. You might not be able to save all your belongings in the moment during a disaster, but you can definitely make the claims process easier and quicker with this list.
Let’s take a look at what you need to make a household inventory list, the best way to do it, and how to store the information.
What’s a home inventory list? And why do I need to make one?
A home inventory list is a catalog of items or personal belongings you have in your home, condo, or apartment.
You can organize this list however you want. But it’s probably the easiest to categorize things by room or type of item.
Making a home inventory list can feel daunting. But you don’t want to leave it last minute.
Carving out time to do this ensures that you don’t miss any items to claim. It can also help determine if you have enough insurance. And it can serve as proof of loss due to a disaster and it makes the claims process much smoother.
Where do I begin? How do I make this list?
It can feel intimidating to ensure that you get everything right for this home inventory list.
But your first step is to decide what kind of inventory you want to create. There are three kinds of inventories you can make:
- Written: You can create your own list using a spreadsheet or a document with all your items including a description, value, and purchase date.
- Visual: You can take a video walk-through of your home or take photos of items.
- Digital: There are several apps that let you photograph an item and add information about it and keep it all together.
Ideally, you’d want to have a home inventory list that includes a written and visual record for each item. The easiest way to do this is by going through the digital record route.
One place to start is with your insurance company. Many of the bigger carriers have their own apps that come with an inventory tool. This might even speed up the claims process since your home inventory will be directly connected to your file.
You can also find other apps to use in your app store. Regardless of what app you end up going with, just make sure you’re able to store a copy of your lists, files, and information somewhere else.
What information needs to be on the list?
When it comes to cataloging your belongings, the more information you provide the better. This can only help your case if you need to file a claim.
You should try to have this information about each item:
- Description of the item
- Make, model, or serial number
- Evaluations of items, appraisals, or cost at the time you purchased it
- Date of purchase
- Where the item was purchased
- Photos of the item
When it comes to higher value things, antiques, and irreplaceable items, you’ll need to speak with your insurance rep. You might not have the right coverage for these things based on your current insurance policy. And if they are covered, you might need to include additional information about them for claims purposes.
Keep your information safe
If you choose to use an app or type it up in a document, it’s easy enough to store copies of your home inventory list in a number of safe places.
Just make sure that you have this information backed up somewhere else other than your cellphone or your personal laptop.
Another option is for you to use a secure cloud storage service to save your video and pictures. You just want to make sure that you have access to it when you’re in an emergency where it’s secure and not publicly accessible.
If you choose to have a physical copy of your list, make sure you keep a copy somewhere else, like at your office or in a safety deposit box.
Review, review, review
Once you have your inventory list, it’s a great time to review your policy. Maybe you’ve realized that your current coverage barely covers half of your belongings.
You can also reach out to your insurance agent to go through it with you. They can help you determine if you’re adequately covered against all potential disasters that could happen in your area. Giving a copy of your home inventory to your insurance agent isn’t a bad idea either. They can look over it and help you get better coverage.
Having insurance is the first step, but making sure you’re not underinsured is the next. You want to have enough coverage for your belongings and your home.
Other things to keep in mind
Try to get into the habit of adding new purchases to your home inventory list. This will make it more manageable and this ensures that you’re not missing anything.
And don’t forget your items in storage. Make sure you take note of your items in your attic, basement, detached structures, or storage units.