How to Create a Home Inventory

Unexpected disasters can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Are you prepared to provide a home inventory of your household possessions in the case of massive property destruction? When someone loses their home in a natural disaster, they’re under such severe duress that they frequently blank on what they owned, how much it was worth, and any other details of the contents of their home. By staying organized and keeping a record of everything you have, you’ll be able to hand your list off to your insurance company and focus on rebuilding your life.

Last week we discussed the importance of keeping a home inventory of the things that you own in case of an emergency. Today we wanted to tackle actually making that list, because the task can seem daunting. By breaking it down into manageable steps, it makes the process easier and less intimidating, and our objective is to keep you both informed and prepared for when disaster strikes. Keeping a record of everything you own is the easiest way to prove how much coverage you deserve in the event that you lose everything, and will speed up your recovery process to help you get back on your feet sooner.

Your home inventory should include:

  • Jewelry
  • Art
  • Collectibles
  • TVs/laptops/electronics
  • Musical instruments
  • Sports equipment
  • Tools
  • Other similar items

Things you should leave off your home inventory include:

  • Yearbooks
  • Trophies
  • Diaries
  • Other sentimental items

While they’re devastating losses, and are incredibly valuable sentimentally, insurance companies can’t put a dollar amount on emotional value, and as a result you likely will not be compensated for these types of items.

Your home inventory should be an itemized record including the following information:

  • Brief description
  • Purchase date
  • Model/serial number
  • Purchase price
  • Estimated current value

Additionally, you should keep important receipts and take photos/videos to be able to prove the condition/value of items if necessary.

On the topic of keeping receipts, there are life organization strategies you can implement to help you seamlessly integrate your record keeping into your daily routine. A valuable practice to adopt is to collect all of your receipts in the same place over the course of the month. For the ladies, a really easy method to do this is to invest in one of those durable, clear plastic zippered pouches that you can just slip into your purse for easy-access. If you don’t carry a purse, keeping one of these pouches in your bedroom, office, or anywhere that you keep valuable documentation will work just as well.

Compile all of your receipts, and routinely sort through them at the end of the month. Receipts can be divided into two types: short term and long term. Oftentimes, short term receipts can be discarded, because they’re for everyday purchases that you don’t ever plan to return, such as groceries or gas. Trashing short term receipts clears your collection of clutter, and allows you to shuffle through the receipts you actually need to consult more efficiently. It’s also important to make sure you’re not keeping receipts that are expired; if you keep a receipt because you may return the item, but you’ve passed the date for which returns can be made, that receipt is now useless, so get rid of it!

Long term receipts are those that came with big ticket items, which often carry warrantees. These should be filed away by category and year in a filing cabinet or similar storage system, so that you can access them easily when necessary, but they don’t get in the way of your daily needs. Other examples of long term receipts are reimbursements for medical expenses, or things for your taxes or home business that need to be kept for your records. Choosing a date to regularly go through the receipts you’ve collected throughout the month is a great way to make this a routine activity, and keep your records neat and organized.

Your insurance provider can supply you with home inventory forms that allow you to be compensated appropriately in the case of property damage/loss due to natural disasters of any magnitude. These forms will generally have space to record all of the important information, but you can also create your own home inventory spreadsheets and checklists to document everything you have if you’d prefer. Another good practice to maintaining this information is to set aside time to go room-by-room with your family and fill out your spreadsheet/paperwork with all of your valuable items. While you’re going through the house to catalog things, use your phone to photograph/video record the detailed areas of your house, because during a crisis you’re likely not going to remember every item you own. Upload your records online to a storage cloud or other similar storage system, because that way they’ll be accessible from anywhere in the event that you lose your home and everything within it.

If you need help creating a home inventory document to catalog all of your valuables, tweet to us @InsQuoteOnline and we’ll help you build one to suit your needs!

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