Quick, close your eyes! Picture the room you are in right now. Can you list everything in the room with you? No peeking! Don’t forget items in drawers, cabinets, and closets. Ok, open your eyes. How’d you do? Now could you do this for your entire house?Keeping a home inventory prevents you from having to play this guessing game in the unfortunate event of a claim. It’s so easy to forget about that box of books tucked in the attic, or the vase under the kitchen sink, especially when you’re already dealing with the stress of a loss. To make things easier and a little less hectic when you really need it, take the time to make a home inventory now.
But why do I need an inventory? Won’t my insurance company just write me a check for the amount of insurance I have on my policy? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The “personal property” coverage on a homeowner’s/tenant policy is the MAXIMUM amount of money an insurance company will pay. But in order to receive a reimbursement check for a covered claim, you will first have to submit a list of the items you need reimbursed for. Trying to do this from memory can be next to impossible. This is where the home inventory list comes in handy.
Taking inventory can be as simple as taking a few photos/videos of your home, or as complex as a detailed computer spreadsheet. It’s really up to you. Of course, the more detailed your inventory is, the easier it will be in the event of a claim. Ideally you would include a description of each item, how much you paid for it, and the current condition/value. Bonus points if you keep copies of receipts or appraisals.
So, how do you go about making a home inventory? There are many options beside the old tried and true method of putting pen to paper, though this option is just as good as any. For a quick and easy inventory, grab your camera (even your phone will do). Start by walking slowly through each room, opening cabinets and drawers, take a video, or snap pictures as you go, working your way through the whole house. Once you’re done, store the photos/videos where you can get to them in the event of a claim. Another option is a computer database. You could easily create one yourself with word or excel type programs. There are many free templates available online. The Insurance Information Institute offers a free online inventory service as well as a free app to help you create and keep a complete home inventory. Their user friendly online service/phone app called “Know Your Stuff” lets you track items room by room and even has an option to add photos. Regardless of how you make your home inventory list, make sure to store it in a safe place OUTSIDE of the home, such as in a safety deposit box, or uploaded to the cloud, and be sure to update it regularly.
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