Imagine having to remember and describe every item in your home, especially after you’ve been the victim of a fire, theft, or natural disaster. Rather than relying on your memory, you may want to prepare a home inventory — a detailed record of all your personal property. This record can help substantiate an insurance claim, support a police report when items are stolen, or prove a loss to the IRS. Here are some tips to get started.
Tour your property. A simple way to complete your inventory is to make a visual record of your belongings. Take a video of the contents of each room in your home and spaces where you have items stored, such as a basement, cellar, garage, or shed. Be sure to open cabinets, closets, and drawers, and pay special attention to valuable and hard-to-replace items. You can also use the tried-and-true low-tech method of writing everything down in a notebook, or use a combination approach. Mobile inventory apps and software programs are available to guide you through the process.
Be thorough. Your home inventory should provide as many details as possible. For example, include purchase dates, estimated values, and serial and model numbers. If possible, locate receipts to support the cost of big-ticket items and attach copies of appraisals for valuables such as antiques, collectibles, and jewelry.
Quick Tips for Taking a Home Inventory1:
- Make a list of all the items you have, if you have bulk items (like a Blu-ray collection, simply list off the number of items).
- Take pictures and notate photographs.
- Video tape it. Narrate a walkthrough of your home inventory. Make sure shots are clear. Remember to keep a backup video somewhere safe.
- Take note of big ticket items, you may need to add a rider for valuables over a certain amount.
Keep it safe. In addition to keeping a copy of your inventory in your home where you can easily access it, store a copy elsewhere to protect it in the event that your home is damaged by a flood, fire, or other disaster. This might mean putting it in a safe deposit box, giving it to a trusted friend or family member for safekeeping, or storing it on an external storage device that you can take with you or on a cloud-based service that provides easy and secure access.
Update it periodically. When you obtain a valuable or important item, add it to your inventory as soon as possible. Review your home inventory at least once a year for accuracy. You can also share it annually with your insurance agent or representative to help determine whether your policy coverages and limits are still adequate.
A List of Items Generally Found in Homes1
Below is a list of items generally found in homes from knowyourstuff.org (a site run by the Insurance Information Institute):
- VCR/DVD player
- Video camera
- CD player
- Stereo equipment
- CDs, records
- Sewing machine
- Answering machine
- Air conditioners
- Vacuum cleaner
- Exercise equipment
- Window treatments
- Lamps/light fixtures
- Collections (coin, stamp, etc.)
- Pictures/wall hangings
- Coffee table
- End tables
- Entertainment center/wall units
- Piano/other musical instruments
- China cabinet
- Table linens
- Tea/coffee sets
- Serving table/cart
- Bed Linens
- Dressing Tables
- Night tables
- Sports Apparel
- Microwave Oven
- Coffee makers/other small appliances
- Kitchen Utensils
- Hair dryer/other electrical appliances
- Shower Curtains
- Fax Machine
- Business Supplies
- Sports Equipment
- Toys/Outdoor Games
- Small Boats
- Lawn Mower
- Snow Blower
- Wheelbarrel/Other Garden Tools and Supplies
- Work Bench
- Carpentry Tools/Supplies
- Holiday Decorations
- Garden Chairs
- Garden Tables
- Outdoor Cooking Equipment
1. “Creating a Home Inventory.” http://factsoninsurance.com/creating-a-home-inventory/
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017