Creating a Home Inventory

Nearly 500,000 homes catch fire each year. These fires cause an average of nearly two thousand dollars worth of damage per home, with some homes undergoing significantly greater losses. One out of every five homes in high risk coastal areas undergoes hurricane damage each year. Tornadoes and earthquakes can affect just as many homes as hurricanes in areas prone to them. As frightening as these statistics are, it’s important that you as a home owner be prepared to work with your insurance company in the case of damage or other loss to your home.

When damage or loss to your home occurs, your insurance company will need you to produce a list of valuable items for which you’ll require replacement or reimbursement. Although you may think you could recall such items easily, most homeowners discover that in time of crisis, the stress of the situation makes it quite difficult to be accurate and thorough. If you’ve lost a number of large, high profile items such as appliances and electronics, you may have a tendency to overlook small yet still valuable items like your grandmother’s diamond anniversary ring. In cases like these, a home inventory can prove to be an invaluable resource for you.

A home inventory list will detail each item of value in your possession, both in your home and in other structures on your property, such as a storage shed. Your home inventory should include appliances, electronic equipment, expensive tools or lawn equipment, jewelry, clothing, artwork, antiques, furnishings, china and silver and any other item you would need to replace should your home be damaged or destroyed. You’ll also need to include the cost of each item on your list, so it’s a good idea to save receipts and any other documentation of value that you may have, such as an appraisal. Failure to provide accurate lists or documentation could result in inadequate reimbursement from your HomeOwners Insurance policy.

The best way to organize your home inventory is room by room. Keeping related items together on your list will be beneficial for you if you need to add or change items at a later time and will also make the process of identifying your losses quicker if only part of your home is damaged. The more detailed you make your list, the better your chances of being sufficiently reimbursed will be. For instance, if you have a set of china that was left to you by your grandmother, include the date it was made, the brand or company that made it, and any distinguishing features that affect its value. Furniture should be described by maker, design, and materials. If an item has a serial number or model number, that should be included as well.

While this may seem like an overwhelming task, one way you can reduce the work involved is to record your home inventory on video. Walk through each room of your home and videotape each item while at the same time describing the item and its value. The recording should then be stored in a safe place off your property, such as a bank safe deposit box. Receipts and other documentation should be stored off site as well, since they’ll be of no help if they are destroyed in a fire or storm. Another way to make the process easier is to conduct your home inventory at the time of a move. You’ll be going through all your possessions anyway, so as you’re boxing them up and moving them to the truck, go ahead and create your inventory list. This way, you’ll also be able to prove whether the moving company has lost or damaged anything during transit.

Creating a home inventory is one of the best ways to protect yourself in the event of catastrophic loss or damage to your home. Initially it may take some time, but thereafter updates will be relatively quick and easy, and your inventory list will remove enormous amounts of frustration and stress during time of crisis. Your homeowners insurance company will be easier to work with if you can provide them with accurate details, and the peace of mind you’ll gain will be well worth the time investment.

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