No one wants to think about losing their stuff to fire, theft, or some other catastrophe. After all, if the worst happens, your homeowners or renters insurance policy will help you recover your losses, right? Right. However, in order to make a claim, you’ll need to provide a detailed list of your belongings and their worth. This can be difficult to do when you’re in the midst of a crisis. So rather than wait, take stock now. A home inventory may one day save you time, reduce stress, and speed up the claims process.
How do I create an insurance home inventory?
You may not realize how many belongings you’ve accumulated until you begin to document them. If the task seems overwhelming, start with a small, contained area, such as a sporting equipment closet or a kitchen cabinet, suggests the Insurance Information Institute.
Take the process one step at a time, using these tips:
- Jot down key information about each item. Note each item’s make, model, and serial number (check the back or bottom of appliances and electronics), as well as the place and date of purchase and the price you paid. Count and log your clothing by category: six pairs of jeans, four belts, 15 pairs of socks, etc.
- Remember to list belongings tucked away in your attic, basement, or garage.
- Keep sales receipts and appraisals. Store them with your list, so you’ll have proof of value handy when you make a claim.
- Take photos. Label the photos (print or digital images).
- Use a home inventory app to speed the process. Apps like Sortly, Nest Egg, and MyStuff allow you to capture and sort information about your belongings, including photos and serial numbers. Some apps even let you scan barcodes that autofill product information—a real time-saver. (When using any app or any technology service, make sure you understand its privacy settings before getting started.)
- Keep your home inventory safe. Upload a digital copy of your household inventory to an email folder or cloud storage—someplace your list will be secure and still accessible after a disaster.
What should be on my home inventory list?
Your insurance home inventory should list all of your possessions.
Include items such as:
- Appliances (mixer, food processor, humidifier, vacuum cleaner).
- Artand collectibles.
- Clothing and shoes.
- Dishes, cutlery, silverware, and other utensils.
- Electronics (TVs, stereos, computers, and accessories).
- Furniture and household decor (drapes, lamps, mirrors, rugs).
- Maintenance gear (lawn mowers, ladders, work benches).
- Sporting equipment (bicycles, firearms, skis, treadmill).
How much personal property insurance do I need?
Taking a household inventory is the first step! When finished, add up the value of the items on your list. The total will give you a good starting point. You’ll also want to consider the replacement cost of your possessions rather than their actual (possibly depreciated) cash value. In other words: Would it cost more than when you purchased the items to replace them today? Ask your insurance agent how your policy determines replacement cost, so there won’t be any surprises if you make a claim.