Why You Need a Home Inventory for Insurance

Keeping an up-to-date inventory of your belongings can streamline your home insurance claim.

Insurance may seem like a set-it-and-forget-it scenario. Once you purchase home insurance, you don't have to worry about it until time comes to make a claim, right? That's true in some respects, but one important part of taking care of your home is keeping an up-to-date inventory of your belongings. That streamlines the claim process and lets you determine your ideal coverage from the outset.

Reasons for Keeping a Home Inventory

The hours right after a serious event like a break-in, natural disaster, or fire are chaotic and stressful. Your insurance provides some peace of mind, but only if you can tell your insurer what you may have lost. An inventory makes it easy to put together a list for a claim. In case of a total loss, your inventory also provides proof of what your home looked like before the damage. If you need to rebuild your home, everything from the floor plans to the material used to build the cabinets is important. Your home inventory is also an invaluable tool when you're shopping around for home insurance in the first place. It gives you the information you need to determine what your belongings are worth, and what kind of coverage you should buy.

Tips for Creating an Inventory

An inventory is more than a list. It includes receipts and documents that show the value of each item. Of course, that isn't always possible, but do your best to have digital or paper copies of all relevant paperwork. Most of all, be practical. Do your best to keep a complete and accurate list of your stuff, so you can get the best value out of your home insurance.

  • Go room by room. You own a lot of stuff. Break down your inventory by room. Log even the small things like detachable appliances, shoes, clothing, jewelry and anything else that cost you money.
  • Go outside. Your gardening equipment, lawnmower, and everything else that's in the backyard is part of your home inventory. Don't forget detachable items like sheds, which may not be part of the home's structure but are still covered.
  • List all the specs. Include a description of the item, date of purchase, cost, serial number, and any receipts. If you don't have all this information, do your best.
  • Take video and photos. This provides backup in case you need to make a claim. Still photos and videos are additional evidence of what you have and its condition.
  • Keep digital copies. If possible, store your inventory electronically with ample backup. Any paper receipts, documents, and digital archives should be held off-site. That way, your inventory won't be destroyed along with your home contents in the event of disaster.
  • Update regularly. High-priced items like artwork change in value over time. Consider new appraisals on these items every few years. Also, do an annual review of your inventory to add or delete items you've purchased or disposed of.

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