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How to create a home inventory list for home insurance

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Having a home inventory can play a vital role in recovering after a natural disaster. A list of your home’s contents can be the difference between recovering faster or struggling to figure out what you’ve lost.

A recent report by Farmers Insurance said 44% of Americans don’t have a home inventory for their home insurance. However, more than two-thirds will experience a natural disaster in their lifetime.

Unfortunate incidents and disasters happen all the time and you as the homeowner want to be able to file an insurance claim with as little effort as possible. You'll be under enough stress already.

To mitigate this process for you and your insurance company, it's important you make a comprehensive and detailed account of all your possessions.

 

Creating a home inventory for your home insurance

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.

The key is to get it down somewhere -- on paper, in a notebook, in photos or videos. The more information you have, the better -- it will make filing the claim faster and easier. It’s better to have too much information than not enough.

Make your list by including:

  • The name of the items
  • When it was purchased
  • Where it was purchased
  • How much 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 a 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 or 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.

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