How and Why to Compile Home Inventory

Another hurricane season is underway and is likely to be bad. Wildfires are also raging across California , and the pandemic means the rest of us are spending more time at home than ever before, increasing the likelihood of home fires and other property damage accidents. If you’ve been thinking lately about insurance or increasing coverage for your home’s contents, you’re one step ahead: it’s never a bad idea to document your property in the event of burglary, damage, or fire. But how to do that? Well, the best tool for the job is the one you actually use.

Taking an inventory of a home is not difficult, but it is time consuming. This is also extremely important ; Keeping a complete and accurate inventory will speed up the claims handling process and ensure that your insurance takes care of whatever you have lost. (You need insurance , of course.)

Many tools can help you with the inventory process and store it in a safe place (we’ll list a few below), but the basics are pretty simple: you’ll want to take pictures of all of your belongings (including the serial numbers for your electronic devices. In the age of smartphones, this is not a problem: just walk around the house and film the contents and you have a good start In addition to videos, you will want to keep detailed brand and model information for more expensive items – along with receipts if possible (take pictures in case you lose the originals). As we noted earlier , just listing “toaster is out” isn’t enough if what you actually have is a $ 600 convection oven; the insurance company will be happy to charge a replacement price for a $ 20 cheap model if you can’t prove it. the true value of your losses, especially for unique and valuable items such as jewelry, wine and firearms ( although it is important to note that coverage may be limited for se items; for example, a typical insurance policy only covers up to $ 1,000 for a piece of jewelry and $ 5,000 for each incident).

You can keep inventory in any convenient format, be it a Google document or an app provided by a third party or insurance company. Be sure to update them regularly as you upgrade, or dispose of miscellaneous property.

It is also important to keep inventory outside the home in some form or another. Again, your phone will make this easier – you can back up your photos and videos to the cloud and save your documents or app data without a second thought – but it’s also a good idea to keep a physical copy in your office or a trusted friend. You can even rent a safe, or use one of these alternatives – which is not a bad idea, as it will also give you space to store important documents so they won’t get lost or damaged in a fire. This article was originally published by Lisa Hoover in March 2010. It was updated in August 2020 by Joel Cunningham to provide more complete advice, update content to include new and up-to-date information, and revise sections that link to outdated resources.


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