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Homeowners Insurance

Organizing and Documenting Your Home’s Valuables

If you had to, could you make a list of everything you own – from memory alone? For most of us, our belongings are all safely tucked away at home, making it hard to visualize what it could all add up to. Itemizing these possessions becomes incredibly difficult when we no longer have access to the contents of our home, such as after a break-in, fire, or flooding. Without an inventory of your home’s contents, remembering every single thing you had in the storage room, downstairs closet, or attic is downright impossible.


What Is a Home Inventory?


At its most basic, a home inventory is a list of all your personal possessions, along with as many details as is necessary to confirm their ownership and value. Information captured in a home inventory may include:


  • Item description
  • Purchase date, store, and price
  • Make/model
  • Serial number
  • Receipts and appraisals
  • Estimated current value
  • Photos and video


What you capture in your list will depend on the nature of the items. Appliances and electronics should have a serial number, whereas other items may not. Receipts and appraisals can confirm an item’s value, which is especially important for pricey items. For items you possess in large quantities, such as everyday clothing, you’d simply want to provide a count by category, such as 10 sweaters, 3 jeans, and 2 sneakers.


Why Create a Home Inventory?


Your memory is surprisingly unreliable. A home inventory is a much more reliable and trustworthy method of determining the estimated current value of your personal property, which can be helpful in the following ways:


  • Determine insurance limits – To determine how much personal property coverage you need in your homeownerscondo, or renters insurance policy; you may also find additional coverage is needed for high-value possessions, such as expensive jewelry or fine art.
  • Speed claim payments – To help prove ownership and value of your possessions after a disaster strikes. A comprehensive home inventory can help expedite claim payments from your insurer.
  • Assist with divorce/estate planning – To determine the value of an estate and make it easier to divide possessions.
  • Tax cuts, disaster assistance – To help confirm your financial losses when applying for a tax break or disaster assistance. 
  • Track items during a move – To ensure all your belongings are packed, moved, and received at the new location.
  • Decluttering – The process of compiling a home inventory can help identify items you should’ve tossed or gotten rid of years ago.


Who Needs a Home Inventory?


Regardless of how many possessions you have or their value, a home inventory can benefit practically everyone. Homeowners and renters can use it to determine their insurance coverage needs and assist with making an insurance claim. The same is true for anyone with high-value property, such as expensive jewelry, antiques, and collectibles. If you travel frequently, you may be at a higher risk of theft – so, a home inventory can provide peace of mind while you’re away from home.


How to Create a Home Inventory


Creating a home inventory may seem like a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be. The document itself can be as simple as filling out a home inventory checklist. You’ll want to take photos and collect receipts and other documentation as you go. There are also many apps available for this purpose, including this home inventory app by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).


Here are some tips as you complete your home inventory:


  • Your approach – Go from room to room and try to keep going until you’ve covered all areas of the home. It’s better to have a bare-bones inventory of the whole home at first. Otherwise, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and leave the list unfinished. On a first pass through your home, you’ll likely capture all the big-ticket items.
  • Focus on high-value items – Pay attention to your most expensive possessions and capture as much info for them as possible. This includes jewelry, art, antiques/collectibles, musical instruments, and electronics.
  • Clothing – Count your clothing rather than itemizing what you own. The exception is significant couture items, designer handbags, and other expensive or one-of-a-kind valuables.
  • Off-site items – Don’t forget to include items stored outside the home, such as in a safety deposit box at the bank or in other off-site storage.


Where to Store a Home Inventory


Whatever method you used to create your home inventory (paper, digital, or app), it’s important to make sure it’s easily accessible to you in an emergency. Your best bet is to store these items in the cloud. Also, you could email them to yourself, so you’ll know exactly where to find them when you need to. Many home inventory apps allow you to print or export the completed forms. If you’re dealing with paper forms or printouts, along with paper receipts/appraisals, take a photo of each and store the photos in the cloud. Keeping a hard (paper) copy of everything in a waterproof and fireproof container is also a good idea.


How Often to Update a Home Inventory


Once you’ve created a home inventory, you’ll want to update it at least annually. A good method is to pick a day, such as the first Sunday of the new year, and do it then. Be sure to update estimated current values if any of those have changed. And if you’re gifted with high-price valuables or you make a significant purchase, be sure to add those items to the inventory as you acquire them.


Protecting Your Personal Property Begins With Insurance


Knowing how much your belongings are worth is extremely beneficial for homeowners, condo owners, and renters alike. It can help determine your net worth, how much insurance you’ll need, streamline the claims process after a disaster, and much more. Don’t rely on memory alone; it’s notoriously fallible.


At The Windward Insurance Agency, we understand the value of having a home inventory, so we’ve created a home inventory checklist to make it easy for you to get started.

Download Here

Would you like to know more about homeowners insurancecondo insurancerenters insurance, or purchasing additional coverage for your valuables? We’re here to help! Get your quote on our website now, or call The Windward Insurance Agency team at (866) 231-2433.