None of us want to think about what would happen if we lost everything in a disaster such as a house fire, pipe burst or severe storm. Insurance gives us some peace of mind and the promise that our loss has coverage. Having an insurance policy is only one step in the process of making sure that your belongings will be put back in order after a devastating loss.
Do you know how much your belongings are worth? If you lost everything, would you know what to replace? If your answer to these questions is, “No,” it is time to put together a home inventory of your belongings.
Why You Need a Home Inventory
As the name would suggest, a home inventory is a list of your home’s contents (Contents is the area of your insurance policy that covers your belongings). It does not need to be accurate down to the last sock or paperclip, but it should represent all of the valuables that you own as well as the contents of expensive collections or personal libraries.
The primary purpose of your home inventory is to provide a thorough list to your insurance company in the event of a loss so that you receive an accurate refund. It also helps you understand the worth of your property so that you can select the appropriate insurance coverage. Home inventories are also helpful for managing a loved one’s estate.
What Should a Home Inventory Include?
When putting together an inventory, there are several pieces of information to include:
- A comprehensive list of your valuable contents, including jewelry, electronics, and collectibles (don’t forget your outdoor items).
- Serial numbers for all electronic devices.
- Appraisal information for any antiques or other valuables that you have had appraised.
- Receipts for large-ticket items.
- Photographs or video of your items and collections.
Once you have gathered this information, take the time to tally up its general value. The actual value of your home’s contents will vary over time due to depreciation, but having this figure as a baseline will prove very helpful if you ever need to file a claim.
Building Your Home Inventory
Listing every item that you own can be a daunting task, but, fortunately, there are some tools that will make it easier to stay organized. Your insurance company may offer a Web app for this purpose; check the company’s website to find out. If so, you should be able to sync your list with the insurer’s servers, streamlining the claims process.
If your insurance company does not have a Web app, there are still numerous home inventory apps and computer programs available, and many of them are free:
- Visual Home Inventory (Android)
- MyStuff2 Lite (iOS)
- Inventory Buddy (iOS)
- Home Inventory Photo Remote (iOS)
- Know Your Stuff Home Inventory (iOS and Android)
- Encircle (iOS and Android)
You do not need to build your inventory all at once. Chip away at it over a few sittings until you have added all of your contents, and be sure to add new purchases as you buy them.
Once you create your inventory, it is a good idea to store a physical copy somewhere secure, like a fire-proof safe, as well as keeping a digital copy. Ideally, you will want to save it to a cloud-based service like Dropbox so that you can access it from anywhere at any time.
Help be more prepared for disasters by reviewing ALE Solutions’ temporary housing options.
Photo credits: ©iStock.com/vetkit, Jarin13