A home inventory is an excellent way to expedite the insurance claims process after theft, damage, or loss. This record of your insurable assets will not only help you in the settlement of a covered loss or claim, but may also help verify tax-deductible property losses and determine the right amount of insurance coverage you need. Imagine having to list every possession you own, along with each item’s worth after your belongings have been stolen or destroyed in a fire or natural disaster. The task is much less daunting if you stay proactive and follow these simple steps.
Why do I need a home inventory?
A home inventory can be used to help you make coverage decisions. It also can simplify filing an insurance claim, help you secure a settlement and prove useful when verifying property loss for taxes.
Despite the importance of an inventory, many individuals don’t have a detailed record of their belongings. According to the most recent survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (2012), 59% of consumers don’t have an inventory. Of those who do, many haven’t kept their records up to date or didn’t include the necessary documentation.
1. Choose a method
While a home inventory can be as simple as a list or a visual record, an effective home inventory should include both for added security.
Home Inventory List – A comprehensive home inventory list catalogs your belongings and should include the item description (make, model, and serial number, if applicable), value, and purchase date. You can create your own list using a spreadsheet or fill out a home inventory checklist that’s ready to go.
Visual Record – A visual record of your possessions shows proof of ownership. This can be accomplished with a video walk-through of your home or through a series of photographs.
2. Document thoroughly
It’s important to thoroughly document your belongings to help the claims process go smoothly following events ranging from the total loss of your home by fire to the theft of a few items. A good way to start is to move from room to room, listing items as you go. Don’t forget to include the items in your basement, attic, garage, and any detached structures, such as tool sheds. Also, pay special attention to your most valuable possessions, such as antiques, art, jewelry, collectibles, and electronic equipment. If you have any questions about which items are covered by your policy, contact your insurance agent.
Keeping proper documentation will also help to facilitate the claims process. This documentation, which can be scanned for digital storage, includes:
Once you’ve created your home inventory, make sure to update it
as you acquire or get rid of items over time.
3. Keep your documentation safe
Don’t let your home inventory become part of a property loss. Whichever inventory method you choose, it’s important to keep a copy in a bank safe deposit box or other secure location away from your home. One advantage of using an online tool is that it secures your information on the Internet, so you can access it from anywhere, whenever you need it. You can even email the inventory directly to your agent.