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How to Make a Home Inventory

Could you remember all the valuable items you owned if your house was completely damaged or destroyed? Unfortunately, most of us couldn’t. 

Since no home is completely safe from natural or man-made disasters, a home inventory is critical to safeguarding your stuff.

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to document all the valuables in your home:

  • You’ll know what you have and if you need to purchase additional insurance to cover your belongings completely in case of a loss.
  • If the worst case occurs, the claims process will be faster and easier.
  • It can aid you in estate planning purposes.
  • It can help you track your valuables, especially if you move or store items outside your home.

It’s easy to start a home inventory yourself with your smartphone. Just follow these simple steps: 

  1. Take pictures one room at a time using your phone or another camera. 
  2. Take multiple pictures from different angles to document the content and how its positioned.
  3. Photograph any high-value items, collectibles, or unique pieces individually. Remember to check for valuables in closets, drawers, and handbags.
  4. Consider these tips when photographing specific objects. 
  • Artwork: Take photos of artwork from multiple angles to avoid reflections. Record the artist’s signature, date, and edition number if possible.
  • Jewelry – Get close-ups of your jewelry in good natural light.
  • Silver and china – Document an entire set together. Be sure to document any marks or hallmarks where possible. 
  • Precious rugs – Take a picture of the front and back of the rug, so you can show how it was made. 
  • Electronics and appliances – Take pictures of the items and their serial or model numbers.

Also, when it comes to high-value items, such as art, jewelry, or other collectibles, be sure to get them independently appraised. Many standard homeowners policies have minimal standard limits for valuables. So after a home inventory, you’ll know if you need or want to purchase a separate insurance policy for your valuables.

Then organize your list. It can help group less valuable things together, such as sporting equipment and kitchen goods. Reference any receipts you keep to document detailed purchase prices. 

You can create a spreadsheet to document your inventory in one place. There are also home inventory apps, sometimes provided by insurance carriers, that can help if you’re not a spreadsheet person. 

Finally, keep your home inventory in a safe place, preferably in multiple locations. If you create a digital inventory, store it on one of the many cloud services, such as Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive.

If you want help creating your home inventory, there are professionals who can assist. Contact your broker for referrals.