When it comes to your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, you may feel secure knowing that you have coverage should anything happen to your property. But, in order to be truly prepared for a loss of property, you need to have a household inventory at the ready.
Household inventories are exactly what they sound like: a list of all the possessions inside your home. While you may not think it’s necessary to have such a list made up, a household inventory will be important if you ever need to make an insurance claim. Not only can it help you accurately remember all of your possessions, but it also helps to serve as proof that you owned everything you’re claiming—plus, it makes the process a bit less emotionally draining in the aftermath of a disaster.
What Should I Include in My Household Inventory?
In short: as much as possible. Whatever you own, from valuables to other items, you’ll want to include. Furniture, appliances, electronic devices, clothing, tools, office and business supplies—in the case of a household inventory, more is better. Don’t skip out on opening doors and cabinets. Be sure to include your possessions, as well as those of others covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.
How Should I Create My Household Inventory?
Knowing what to put on your household inventory is only half of the battle. In fact, with the amount of time the creation process takes, knowing may even be less than half. Documenting every item in your home is a lengthy process, but it’s a worthwhile one. So what are some ways you can do it?
If you want to take a low-tech approach, you can document all the items (and their approximate value) by hand in a notebook. If that doesn’t seem appealing, it’s also possible to record everything digitally, which can make backing up and updating your inventory a bit easier.
Pictures are another important element to include in your inventory, because they provide confirmation that 1), the item existed in your home and 2), what condition the item was in. After you’ve compiled your photos, you’ll want to add them to your written list, pairing the images up with each item’s description. As an alternative, you can also record a video, describing each item as you document it.
For your major items, such as appliances and large pieces of furniture, keeping receipts can help you confirm the value of these items. If you’re keeping a physical file, include the receipts with the relevant item descriptions. For those who go digital (and don’t want to keep all those receipts in their home), scan a copy of your receipt to add to your file. Serial numbers are also helpful for these items.
Other Helpful Household Inventory Tips:
- Common ways to organize your inventory are by room, by item type, or a combination of the two.
- After you’ve compiled your inventory, it’s important to keep it safe. Put physical records in a safe location, such as a fire-resistant box, and create backups of your digital inventory in several locations.
- Update your household inventory regularly, at least once a year, if not more often.
- Moving is a good time to create an inventory, as you can record items as you pack.
While no one wants to think about losing their property, it does happen. A household inventory can make it much easier to file claims in the aftermath of a disaster and get you on track, at least, to begin getting your life back to normal.