You never know when your home could be damaged in a flood, fire or other disaster. And you can’t rule out the possibility of a home break-in either. Ideally, you will have owners or tenants Insurance in place to cover your damaged or stolen items. But it’s better to have a long list of your belongings before they get damaged or stolen. This is where home inventory comes in.
What is a home inventory?
A home inventory is a complete list of your belongings, along with their monetary value. Although you don’t have to list every item you have in your inventory, you should include all items of significant value.
Why do you need a home inventory?
Your insurance company may not require you to have a home inventory, but it’s a useful thing to have nonetheless. If your home is prone to damage or a break-in, the last thing you want to have to do after the fact is rack your brains trying to figure out which items were affected. With a home inventory, you will have an easier time obtaining this information. This could, in turn, facilitate the filing of a claim against your insurance policy, and also, get paid on your claim much sooner.
Also, if your home is damaged during a major storm, you may be eligible for local or federal assistance. Having a record of your damaged property could help you get the maximum amount of help and help you move forward faster.
“Having a loss in your home can be very stressful,” says Jennifer Brault, assistant vice president, Claims Property Personal Lines at Nationwide. “It’s a good way to restore and rebuild your life faster during this time.
Additionally, according to Pat Howard, Chartered Property and Casualty Insurance Expert at Policygenius, “A home inventory also helps to ensure that you are purchasing the correct amount of home or renter’s insurance coverage and to account for items that require coverage. extra, like an art collection.”
What should be included in a home inventory?
Your home inventory should include everything you own of substantial value. There’s no specific threshold for what this entails, but generally speaking, you don’t want to list every $20 item you own, but you can list items costing $100 or more.
Some of the items you might want to list include:
- High-end clothing
- Hand bags
- Cooking tools
- Small appliances
- Musical instruments
- Interior decoration and works of art
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of items to include, you need to save for each item:
- Date of purchase
- The description
- Estimated value
If you have receipts documenting your purchases, it is best to keep them. Brault adds that capturing item brands and serial numbers can be especially helpful when dealing with electronics.
How to take a home inventory
The first step in taking a home inventory is to decide how you want to keep a record of your belongings. Here are some options to consider:
A written inventory. Using a notepad or spreadsheet, you can create a comprehensive list of the items you own, along with details such as purchase date and value.
A digital inventory. There are a host of home inventory apps you can use to compile your data digitally. Many of them are free, although some limit you to a certain number of items before charging a fee. Last year, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners presented its own inventory of homes application. Sortly offers a free inventory app for up to 100 entries, but if you want to do a more complete inventory, you pay. Then there is the UPHelp Home Inventory app from United Policyholders.
With a home inventory app, you typically take photos of your belongings and put them into categories. If you’d rather not use a home inventory app (or pay for one), you can take photos or videos of your belongings yourself. From there, you can add captions or edits to include details about each item, like purchase date and cost.
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to take your home inventory, your next step is to do the actual work. To that end, a good bet is to tackle your house piece by piece until you’ve covered all the valuables. Don’t forget to check your shed, garage, and attic for items you might want to include.
You should also consider items stored outside your home. “If you have items in a self-storage unit, be sure to include them, as they are usually covered by your home insurance policy,” says Amy Harris, spokeswoman for State Farm.
Now, if you are in the process of moving, then it will be easier for you to take inventory. “The best time to take a home inventory is during a move,” insists Howard, “because you can make a list of everything when you’re packing or unpacking into your new home. But in the end, there’s no bad time to make a list of everything you own – as long as you do it before a loss.”
Where to store your home inventory
It is important to keep your home inventory in a safe and easily accessible place. If you have a written inventory, be sure to scan and email a copy to yourself and store it digitally in the cloud. You can keep a hard copy in a fireproof safe or in a safe, if you rent one. You can even send a copy to your insurance company.
If you have digital inventory, don’t just keep a copy on your phone or laptop. If these items are damaged, you’re out of luck. Instead, email yourself a copy and store one digitally in the cloud as a backup.
How often should you update your home inventory?
Whenever you buy a valuable item, be sure to update your home inventory. The goal is to have a complete list of what you own, so it pays to get into the habit of updating your inventory as you go.