Building a Home Inventory

What You Should Know About: 

Creating and Maintaining a Home Inventory

A complete inventory of your home and possessions can speed the claims and recovery process

What you should know:

  • A home inventory is a detailed list of everything in your home, from the basement to the attic, including clothing, furniture, computers and electronics and other personal possessions
  • Creating a home inventory takes just a few minutes, but can save hours when it comes time to file a claim
  • In a 2015 survey, only half of homeowners prepared an inventory of their possessions, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

If your personal possessions were stolen or destroyed by a fire or other disaster, would you be able to recall from memory every item that you owned for your insurance claim? It’s possible, but it would be an arduous task during a stressful time. Having an up-to-date inventory of your possessions will not only help you get your insurance claim settled much faster, it will verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the right amount of insurance.

Creating a home inventory doesn’t have to be a daunting or time-consuming project, especially with today’s technology. Here’s how to get started:

  • It’s up to you how you make your inventory. You can write everything down in a notebook, make a spreadsheet, use home inventory apps or keep a photo record of your belongings by taking pictures or video with your smartphone. Just be sure to include basic information, either in writing or verbally if you’re recording, that includes a description of the item, where you bought it, the serial number, purchase date and estimated value.
  • Pick an easy room to start to prevent getting overwhelmed. Start in the kitchen, for example, and focus on appliances first. Continue to physically walk through your house to build the list, going from room to room.
  • Save receipts, purchase contracts and appraisals so you have proof of an item’s value. Storing the original copies in an off-site location, such as a safe deposit box, is a good idea, but also taking photos of those documents with your smartphone and saving them to “the cloud” can save time now and later.
  • Count clothing by general category, such as “five pairs of jeans, three dresses, two pairs of sneakers,” and be sure to take special note of clothing items that are of higher value.
  • Items kept in a storage facility should be included in your home inventory as well.
  • Always keep your home inventory up-to-date. Buying a new laptop, digital camera or antique dresser? Whenever you make a significant purchase, add it to your home inventory.
  • Keep your home inventory in a safe place. If your home inventory is digital, make sure it’s backed up. If you have a paper inventory, make copies and store one copy outside of your home in a safe deposit box or other secure off-site location. If you’re using an app, be sure the information you input is backed up by the app developer and that you know how to access your home inventory when you need it.

*Some information provided by Insurance Information Institute

Building a Home Inventory