If the unthinkable occurs to your home—whether it’s a fire, theft, or other type of catastrophic loss—homeowners and renters alike need to be prepared. In case of an insurance claim, it’s essential to have a comprehensive home inventory list on hand to quickly and easily account for your damaged or lost items. Making a home inventory checklist doesn’t need to be difficult but does need to be done—even if you’re in temporary housing.
Why Do I Need a Home Inventory List?
Let’s face it: We all have a lot of stuff. An inventory list provides an insurance claims representative the information needed to properly account for damaged or lost personal belongings. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies provide a blanket amount of coverage for items. Putting together an inventory not only ensures you have the right amount of coverage, but it also serves as a checklist for the items lost in a fire, burglary, or flood.
While you don’t need to list every pair of socks in your drawer, getting as many details as possible will help expedite insurance claims.
5 Steps for Making a Home Inventory Checklist
Any good home inventory requires a methodical approach. Here are five steps to get you started:
1. Start with one room
To stay organized, start in either the kitchen or living room. These rooms generally have the most expensive items, from appliances to electronics. Finish one room before going on to the next to avoid getting overwhelmed. Plus, starting and stopping in multiple rooms can cause you to accidentally overlook items. Add each room’s items to your list, then log any additional details later.
2. Provide key details
List each item in detail. This includes the name of the item and a description. For example, don’t just list “television.” Instead, get specific: List “Samsung Q80T.” Provide a summary of the item with its year, make, and model, if you have it. A quick description can also be useful for items you don’t have details for, like a sofa. You might describe it as an “oversized L-shaped sofa that seats four with velvet upholstery.” Remember, the goal is to help your insurer easily assess your loss, and the more details you can provide, the better.
3. Take pictures
Go through and add pictures of your items. This not only serves as proof of ownership, but helps in the claims process to make sure you get something similar if your product is no longer available. Don’t forget to take pictures of belongings that might not be itemized, such as a closet packed with clothes or a bookshelf stacked with books and trinkets. All these items add up in a homeowners insurance claim.
4. Retain all receipts
When possible, include receipts of major purchases. This helps a claims representative with valuing the loss and making sure they correctly process the homeowners insurance claim. Make sure receipts are clearly photographed so that they’re legible. If you don’t have receipts for every item, don’t sweat it. But for the ones you do, take a minute to upload a copy to your home inventory.
5. Store your home inventory list in multiple places
Once you’ve created your home inventory checklist, make a couple of copies. It’s a good idea to keep a copy with your home insurance policy, but to also have a backup copy away from the house in case your home has a total loss. Safe deposit boxes, a parent’s house, or an office location are good places to keep your backup inventory. Upload that list to the cloud for safekeeping, too.
Antiques and Collectibles on Your Home Inventory List
Insurance carriers rarely ask for your home inventory sheet until a claim arises. However, if you have valuable items such as antiques, fine art, jewelry, rugs, and other collectibles, you’ll likely need a scheduled policy on top of your standard homeowners policy. When underwriting the policy, receipts or appraisals generally need to be within a certain time frame, such as within two years.
You can complete an antique and collectibles inventory the same way you would complete a home inventory, with the additional step of getting any required appraisals. Your insurance carrier will itemize each possession covered in a scheduled policy—unlike how personal belongings are lumped together in a traditional homeowners policy.
Home inventories are important documents to help you in the event of an insurance claim. Add as much detail as possible, so that a claims representative has all the necessary information to restore your furnishings and belongings based on your policy coverage.