How To Inventory your home for Insurance and Loss Recovery

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    Today we are going to cover the process of inventorying your home in case you have a loss. Whether its the weather, fire or a theft or for general use there is a good reason to inventory the items in your home.

    Unfortunate circumstances can happen and trying to remember everything you own will be difficult when you are facing a loss. This is why you should take the time to do this now and then update your inventory list whenever you add to your home.

    Depending on the value of the items you may want to purchase additional insurance coverage but at the very least you want to be able to have an accurate inventory that you can submit to your insurance carrier.

    What is the best method for inventorying your home?

    This is a difficult thing to answer because every home is different and the items that you purchase may or may not lend themselves well to inventory listing.

    You may want to photograph items individually or as they are placed in your home. You will also want to record any identifiable serial numbers that identify that exact item along with the general model number, colors, sizes, and descriptions.

    Once you have inventoried all of the items in your home you want to have a method that is easy to add items as you buy them.

    If you purchase items on your credit card you want to note the transaction id, the date and the retailer where it was purchased.

    Storage of this information should be on digital media or a cloud server account. I strongly suggest that if you store this information online or on removable media that you encrypt the files so no one else can access this information without your password. You will also want to make multiple backups that can be updated easily. You can place a copy on digital media and store it in a safe offsite location that you can get to quickly.

    It is also important to remove from inventory any items that you remove from the home whether they are sold or trashed. You don’t want to submit an inventory of items that are no longer in the home because the insurance company may decide that you are lying about other items that do exist.

    Lets get started with a quick home inventory

    For a basic quick inventory you want to walk through every room in your home and photograph everything in it. Open drawers and closet doors and if there are expensive items such as electronics you want to make sure you get pictures of them. This should take you all of about 30 minutes to complete.

    You don’t need to get details of everything you just need to start the process. Actually you may find that most of the pictures you take won’t be used in your final inventory but they are good enough until you have completed your full inventory.

    Now take another 15 minutes to write down a quick list of items in each room. Include everything you can see and remember.

    Starting your full home inventory

    Once you decide to inventory your home completely you want to take time to do it correctly. It may take you an hour or more per room depending on the items in it.

    The first thing you want to do is setup a spreadsheet that you can enter items into. You can also use a text file but a spreadsheet will be much easier and it will allow you to calculate values.

    Your descriptions should include:

    Item Name
    Manufacturer Name
    Product ID or SKU
    Serial Number
    Current Value
    Date Purchased
    Method of Purchase
    Store Purchased At
    Description General

    There may be other descriptions that you want to include but this should get you started. Basically you want to describe the item well enough that it could be replaced by your insurance company. If you have the manufacturer’s Product ID and the specific Serial Number if your item has one that along with the price and condition should be good enough however anything that you did to improve the item or the fact that the item may have been purchased some time ago but is in perfect new never used condition is very important to describe.

    You will also have personal keepsakes and antique items that are worth more than their purchase value. If you have a collection of Baseball cards you don’t want to value them at the original 10cents that was paid back in 1954 you want to make sure you list an accurate value for each item as they are today.

    Also something you may not consider is if you have a home heater that has had its blower motor, control panel and elements replaced within the past 3 to 5 years that furnace is basically a new heater. You want to keep records of all of the improvements and repairs so that you are not facing 10 years of depreciation which would value the item at basically nothing.

    A picture should be included for any individual item.
    Keep documentation of any appraisals.
    Keep proof of other improvements or maintenance including bills.

    Important is to keep inventory of everyday items along with expensive items. General clothing such as jeans, t-shirts, underwear and everything including shelving, pantry items just everything in your home should be inventoried because if you add up all of these small items and only submit a loss of large items like a TV, Computer or Refrigerator you could find yourself out of pocket quite deeply.


    Final Note

    You want to contact your insurance agent and have a conversation about how they evaluate the belongings and attachments to your home.

    Ask them about their evaluation of valuable items such as jewelry, antiques or collectables which may appreciate over time.

    Ask them what they will ask you for to prove ownership of these items and the turn around time for payment.

    Whether you live in an apartment or a Beverly Hills mansion its important that you perform an inventory and keep it up to date when things change. This way you won’t get shorted if a disaster occurs.

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