Homeowner’s insurance is required by law in most states. And for good reason. In the event of a disaster, most insurance companies will go out of their way to help you replace your possessions after a fire, flood, tornado or theft.
You can help them by creating an inventory of your home’s contents. This not only will help you prove ownership, it can speed up the process and ensure that you are able to get back on your feet again quickly after something happens.
Doing a home inventory is fairly easy. Once established, it’s quick and painless to update it. You should update your inventory checklist once a year. During the winter months is a good time to do it.
Creating a home inventory checklist
Using a spreadsheet or word processing program, make a page for each room in the home. You’ll want to be as detailed as possible, so make sure to include manufacturer, model, serial number, purchase date, and purchase price.
If you are a collector – be it memorabilia, baseball cards, Pez dispensers, CDs, comic books, anything – make sure to do a separate page and be as detailed as possible on the checklist. Most insurance companies have limits as to what they will cover in some certain categories. Make sure to ask what the limit is. If it will not cover the value of your collection, talk to your agent about increasing the amount.
In addition to a checklist, take photos or video of everything. Photos are particularly helpful with artwork and collectibles.
Always save receipts for big ticket items such as appliances, electronics and furniture. Store them in a fireproof safe or at a remote safety deposit box.
Where to save your checklist
Once your home inventory checklist is complete, you need to take a couple of steps to make sure it’s in a few safe places.
- Email it to yourself and move it to a folder that you will not inadvertently discard
- Email it to a friend or relative
- Save the checklist and photos to a remote storage such as SkyDrive or Dropbox
- Print a copy and file one with your insurance agent
- Put a hard copy in your safe deposit box
Don’t wait till disaster strikes
The time you don’t want to be doing a home inventory is after something happens. Chances are good that you won’t be able to remember the contents of every room after a fire or tornado. You can avoid hassle at a time when all you want to do is return to normal.
Talk to your insurance agent or check your insurance company’s website. Chances are good that they have a template to get you started.