How to Create a Home Inventory List
Homeownership is full of the highest of highs and, unfortunately, the lowest of lows. There’s nothing that compares to the feeling of unlocking your front door for the first time as a new homeowner. There’s also nothing quite as painful as realizing that your home is in the direct path of a natural disaster, or that your kitchen fire has done thousands of dollars in damages. Fortunately, homeowners insurance provides a safety net for these types of worst-case scenarios.
While it may seem impossible to prepare for the unpredictable, there are certain steps all homeowners should take on in order to arm themselves. You change your smoke detector batteries every few months and check you carbon monoxide detector, too. In addition to these kinds of chores, it’s a good idea to assemble a home inventory list you can refer to after an emergency. Creating the list might not seem important now, but should disaster strike, you’ll be thankful you did.
What is a Home Inventory List?
A home inventory list is a list of items that you’d want covered if they were stolen or destroyed. It’s important to keep a running list of your possessions for insurance purposes. Imagine your home was broken into and your television was stolen. While you might know general information about the size and brand of the TV, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to reference the exact model and serial number when it comes time to report it to your insurance company. These kinds of details are helpful, should you need to file a claim to replace the stolen TV.
Maintaining a home inventory list can make this kind of record-keeping a breeze. Yet the National Homeowners Insurance Commissioners found that 59 percent of consumers don’t keep track of their possessions. Without photos, receipts and serial numbers, you’ll have a much more difficult time getting the compensation you deserve. When you’ve got a to-do list a mile long after a natural disaster or burglary, you’ll be relieved to have all of your bases covered.
Strategies for Home Inventory Record-Keeping
While pen and paper lists are certainly one way to keep track of your most valuable possessions, you’ll want to consider some other strategies for record-keeping. One of the easiest ways to keep track of your possessions is to film a video or take a photo of each of your valuables. Snap a quick cell phone picture or video each time you bring a new electronic or piece of equipment into your home. Zoom in on serial numbers and receipts before uploading the video to the cloud. Should your home be destroyed in a terrible accident, you’ll still be able to access the footage.
Similarly, smartphone apps have come a long way in helping people keep records. Document your belongings in a spreadsheet app and include snapshots of each entry right in the file. Some apps even allow you to upload documents associated with each belonging, like a user’s manual or receipt. Just like with a video, this kind of record can be uploaded to the cloud and accessed from anywhere.
Divide your list up by room. Include columns for a description of each entry, quantity, serial number, make and model. Information about the year you purchased it, the value and where it came from can also be useful to include. Be sure to add to this list any time you make a new purchase and delete items as you dispose of them. It’s important to be thorough during this process. Set aside several hours or break up the chore over a couple of days.
Ultimately, record-keeping comes down to what is easiest for you. If creating a spreadsheet or recording a video seem like chores, opt for the path of least resistance. Even if you decide to go with an old-school pen and paper list, you’ll want to make copies and keep a back-up off premises.
Home Inventory Lists and Insurance Claims
If all goes according to plan, your home inventory list will collect metaphorical dust. After all, such a list becomes valuable only after a disaster strikes. But if it does, a home inventory list for insurance claims will be priceless. Fail to assemble a homeowners insurance inventory list and you’ll struggle to get the replacements you deserve. Even a basic list can be a great starting point, but the more detailed your home inventory is, the better.
Filing a homeowners insurance claim will be easy with a thorough list on hand. If you and your family are not currently keeping track of your possessions, move this task to the top of your to-do list as soon as possible. Should the worst-case scenario occur, you’ll be so glad you took care of it!