Simple Tips to Create a Home Inventory
Keep track—and ownership—of your possessions.
If disaster struck your home today, would you know exactly what you had inside? A complete, detailed inventory of your valuables is important when you file an insurance claim.
Why create a home inventory?
A current list of all your major possessions can help ensure you have the right amount of coverage. Knowing what you own and its estimated financial value is helpful when you’re reviewing your policy with your insurance agent. In the event you need to file a claim for theft or damage, a home inventory can help expedite the process.
10 tips for making a home inventory
Whether you create a video, photograph your belongings or both, use these tips:
1. Start outside
Begin with a wide exterior shot of your home. Seeing the entire house provides a great reference point before going into the details of each room. Plus, if you have expensive outdoor furniture, now’s the time to capture it.
2. Let there be light
Before you start inside, remember this one simple tip: Turn on the lights and open the blinds. If you still need more light, bring a flashlight or use the light on your phone.
3. Be thorough
When going through each room in your home, take a variety of shots from different angles. For example, begin with a wide-angle shot of the entire room. Then, get several closeups of each belonging.
Don’t know what to include? Use this calculator trick: Take a few minutes to add up the cost of replacing everything you see in the room. If the result surprises you, add the items to your home inventory.
4. Look in unexpected places
The attic, storage closets, drawers and garage might have valuables you would never know you lost—like antiques and holiday decorations.
5. Capture the details
Clearly record the model and serial number, as well as the manufacturer’s name, from items that have this information. Be sure to document all receipts for purchases, repairs and maintenance—even your jewelry’s written appraisals. If you’re creating a video, describe each item and remember to be specific by including things like the price and complete product name. Smartphone apps like Encircle and Sortly can help you document and track your possessions.
6. Account for the big stuff
Take shots of major electronics, appliances and furniture. When documenting computers and laptops, remember to also capture software programs you paid for by taking a shot of your computer’s applications folder.
7. Lay out large and valuable collections
Whether you collect dolls and coins or stamps and baseball cards, record each piece. Same applies to expensive tools and other hobby supplies.
8. Make a written inventory
Based on the home inventory you create with photos or video, write a checklist of everything you’ve documented, as a backup. At the end of the day, the more documentation, the better.
9. Keep your documentation in a safe but accessible place
Store your video or photos in the cloud and somewhere it won’t be lost—for example, an SD card, external hard drive or flash drive—and keep it in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe or bank safe deposit box.
10. Ensure your list is accurate
Belongings come and go, so you’ll need to set aside a time to update your home inventory list at least once a year. Consider early January, since the holidays are a popular time to receive gifts with hefty price tags. Make it a habit to add new purchases and receipts to your inventory. Also periodically review the list with your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate coverage.