How to make a home inventory list?

Follow these easy steps to create a home inventory for home insurance coverage:

  1. Gather your supplies: You'll need a pen, paper, and a digital camera to document the items in your home.
  2. Make a list of every room: Start by going room by room and making a list of all the items you own. Be as detailed as possible, taking into account each item’s age, purchase price, and any brand or serial number you may know about.
  3. Take notes and photos: Supplement your written list with photos of your larger items and any store sales receipts or documents you have from when they were purchased.
  4. Get an appraisal (if necessary): If you own expensive jewelry, art, antiques, or collectibles that don’t have valuable papers associated with them, it's important to get an expert appraisal so that those items can be properly insured for their full value.
  5. Update your inventory annually: The best way to make sure your home inventory is always up to date is to review it at least once per year and note any changes in ownership or condition of the item listed.

Creating a home insurance inventory checklist for your policy

Your number one priority should be to develop a list of everything you own that would need to be replaced should it get damaged in a disaster.

Follow this home inventory checklist while making your list:

  • The name of the items
  • When was it purchased
  • Where was it purchased
  • How much did it cost
  • Any special details
  • Any other information that would make it easy for an insurance agent to process a loss for you

The insurer will place a value on everything that was claimed lost, so giving them information on possession will allow them to be able to do this so it can be repaired or replaced quickly.

So what's the best way to go about this?

Photos and videos help speed up the filing process and give more accuracy to your claim. You don't need to buy a new digital SLR with a zoom lens though; your phone will do just fine.

Having a visual record of important possessions will take pressure off you in the middle of a very stressful situation. It will also make the job of your insurance agent easier. And don't stop at just pictures and videos of items -- record serial numbers, model numbers and receipts as well.

"Cell phone proof is perfectly fine. Even a list in a notebook will get the job done," said Megan MacBey, CIC, account executive at Eagle Insurance Group, LLC, in Massachusetts.

Walking around your house, going room to room and recording every item may seem like a simple but annoying task. Don't get lost in the tedious work so much that you forget to list everything. Remember to record items in storage boxes in attics and basements that are filled with items of value.

Something else that's often overlooked: your important documents. You can preserve them by taking photos with your phone. Make sure you capture account numbers, addresses and phone numbers associated with bank accounts, passports, appraisals and insurance policies. Birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates are equally vital items to capture on video or photo.

And lest you think that once the list is created you're good, think again. It's a good idea to update at least annually. You may even want to update your list whenever you make a purchase that would be part of a home insurance claim.

An easy method to use is the one you use with your taxes. Document and collect receipts to update your insurance inventory list of the new purchases. Updating annually will allow you to adjust your property coverage accordingly.

Storing your home inventory

In the end, the format of your list doesn't matter. What does matter is that you keep copies of it outside of your property.

It could be at a bank in your safe deposit box, with a friend or family member at their residence, stored digitally online in the cloud, or on an app designed for inventory taking. The key is being able to access it even if your original device is destroyed in the natural disaster.

So what happens if you're part of that 44% who don't have a list, who fall into that 70% who experience the natural disaster? Is your life over?

"No. Just know that the process will take longer and might not be as complete without evidence of what needs to be replaced," said MacBey.

Taking a home inventory of every possession can feel like a daunting task, but it is a vital one. Take it one room at a time and remember: any list is better than none.

How to make the home inventory process more manageable?

To make the home inventory process more manageable, it's important to break it down into smaller tasks. For example, you can create a list of every room and item that needs to be inventoried. Additionally, it's helpful to take notes and photos as you go so that you have a visual record of each item. You can also seek the help of home inventory professionals who do the entire home inventory process for you. There are many mobile app options available to make creating home inventory easier and hassle-free.

Home insurance FAQs

What is a home inventory form?

A home inventory form is a document used to list all of the items in a household. It typically includes detailed information about each item such as description, purchase price, serial/model numbers, and photos. It is important to create a home inventory form for insurance purposes so that you can accurately determine the value of your belongings in the event of theft or damage.

Why do I need to create a home inventory?

Creating a home inventory is not only a wise decision but also one that can be extremely beneficial. It serves as comprehensive documentation of your possessions for insurance policy purposes and helps to accurately calculate the amount of homeowners or renters coverage you need. Furthermore, having such an itemized record on hand makes it much easier to document losses when filing tax returns each year.