The process of filing a claim, including detailing all the information about what was lost in order to prove your loss, can be extremely difficult and time consuming. Your comprehensive list of all your possessions can mean the difference between a potentially delayed settlement of your claim and a smooth and easy one that lets your life return to normal shortly after.
It doesn’t have to be daunting. To arrive at a fair estimate of all your possessions, follow this step-by-step guide to your most accurate home inventory.
Step 1: Create a table
Create a table using an Excel spreadsheet, a digital home inventory software, or simply a notebook – whichever method works best for you – to track your home inventory. The key here is to feel comfortable and trust in the method you choose so that you are able to update it quickly and easily as possible. Include the following information in each column:
- Purchase date
- Brand and model number
- Purchase price
- Any other variables you see fit (quantity, serial number, condition of the item, etc.)
You may choose to categorize the items in the table by room, by type of item (clothing, electronics, etc.), or by value.
Step 2: Document your belongings
Using your camera (a polaroid or disposable camera can be a cheap and quick way to print photos), walk through your house room by room and document each of your possessions. Take a photo and make notes in your table. Make sure to open drawers, closet doors, look inside storage containers, etc. Don’t forget the shed and the garage, porch, basement crawl spaces or attic.
Don’t get bogged down with this step. Focus mainly on the big ticket items, and large groups of items, instead of trying to inventory every single object separately.
Step 3: Gather any official documentation
Gather any readily accessible receipts or other documentation about the big ticket items in your home you’ve inventoried. If you make a claim, you will need various documents, including receipts, proof of ownership (such as photographs, user manuals, and warranties), and a list of damaged property. Remember, any information you have recorded is better than having nothing in the event of a loss.
Step 4: Make multiple copies
Make multiple copies of your home inventory, including a digitized version, and scan or photocopy physical copies for safekeeping, along with some type of copies of the photos. Make sure to store at least one copy outside your home, at a trusted friend or relative’s house.
This final step is of utmost importance: if your computer is stolen, you may not be able to access your inventory – in this case, you’ll really need it.
Step 5: Check your coverage
After you’ve assessed the value of your possessions, find out if you’re adequately insured for them. Very expensive items like jewellery or musical instruments may need to be insured separately. Refer to your homeowners policy to find out, or ask your licensed insurance advisor.
Step 6: Keep it current
Once your inventory has been created, make sure you keep it updated. Whenever you make a significant purchase (new furniture for example) or get rid of something, update your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.
You don’t have to own a home to benefit from a home inventory. If you’re a renter or a student living in a dorm, your household possessions are still valuable to you. Maintaining a home inventory still helps you equally if you should ever suffer a theft or loss and need to determine what the replacement value is. For protection and peace of mind, make your home inventory today.