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5 Steps to a Home Inventory

Do you have a current home inventory? These 5 steps can help reduce the inconvenience of recovering from a loss.
Do you have a current home inventory? These 5 steps can help reduce the inconvenience of recovering from a loss.

Do you have an up-to-date home inventory? If not, you should, for two reasons.

First, a complete, up-to-date inventory will help you determine the correct amount of insurance coverage you need. A current inventory will also pinpoint the need for any additional insurance riders to cover items that are excluded from your homeowner policy.

Second, in the event of a theft, fire or other disaster, having an accurate list will not only make it easier to report your losses, but also help make your case with the insurance company about a fair settlement.

How to create a home inventory

These five steps will guide you through the often-daunting process of setting up a home inventory.

Record furnishings and major items, room by room. Make a list of each room of your house, and jot down what furniture and other possessions are in each. Walk through the house. Tackle one or two rooms per day, and you should have a complete inventory in a week. Write a brief description of each item, and note any serial numbers, purchase prices and dates, and the current value. Include physical receipts and appraisals. (Such documents should also be scanned.)

Create a visual record with photos or video. Take photos or video of every room, opening closets, cabinets and drawers to capture what’s inside. This type of record can be especially useful for items like clothing or kitchenware. Describe the contents, either by speaking or by taking notes, including the date acquired/purchased, the items shown and their location.

Another option is to use an app. There are dozens of home inventory apps for Apple and Android phones. Take advantage of free trials and read the reviews: some are particularly well suited to people with large collections or especially valuable items.

Store the inventory in a safe place off-premises. If your list is a physical document, keep the original inventory and receipts somewhere secure, off-site, where they’ll be safe if a fire or natural disaster destroys your home. If you have a digital inventory, keep a copy on an external storage device or online storage account. The best practice is to have multiple copies, either physical or digital, stored in multiple places.

Discuss big-ticket items with your insurance agent. Valuable items like jewelry, furs, silver and artwork may have increased in value since their purchase date. Also, homeowners’ policies generally limit the amount of coverage on such items. You may want to purchase additional protection in the form of Personal Article Floater policies.

Update your inventory whenever you make a significant purchase. Get into this habit to keep your inventory current, while the details are fresh in your mind. You don’t want to rely on your memory when you have to make a claim.

And here’s one big DON’T . . .

Never pad your list with items you don’t own or inflated values. Some people have the mistaken impression that their insurance company will lowball them on a claim, so they add “extra” to their inventory list to compensate. That’s fraud.

If you have any questions about these tips or your homeowner’s insurance policy, or if you would like a free insurance review, please call us at 877-576-5200 or post a comment below.

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