Preparing a Home Inventory

Preparing a Home Inventory

In the event of a total loss covered by your Homeowners Insurance or Renters Insurance Policy a complete inventory of all the belongings in your home is your best asset in helping you and your Insurance Agent prepare your claim.

If all of your belongings are lost, a detailed home inventory can help ensure their replacement, verify losses for the police and insurance adjuster, substantiate a tax credit, and help you get your life back to normal as quickly as possible.

Don't think your belongings are worth enough to insure? Even the tiniest studio apartment can hold thousands of dollar's worth of personal property. Completing a home inventory can help you determine the overall value of your belongings and assist you in assessing their insurable value.

Investing time in your assets

Taking the time now to document your belongings can save you time and worry later, and ensure proper reimbursement for all your losses. The more area you occupy and personal property you have, the longer it will take to complete an inventory. The most effective inventory combines a detailed written list with one of the following:

  1. Videotape with audio narration
  2. Photographs of valuable, or unique items
  3. Audiotape with photographs of valuable or unique items

There are also good inventory software packages available to help you organize, store and keep your list updated.

No madness in this method

No matter what method(s) you choose, make sure to approach this project systematically so you don't miss anything. Keep a copy of your completed inventory off premises in a safety deposit box, or with a relative or friend.

Here are some project tips:

  • Begin in one room and cover its contents thoroughly before moving on.
  • Remember hallways, attic, basement, garage, porch, pool, patio and garden.
  • Open closets and drawers.
  • Group like-items together when possible. For example, clothing can be grouped by category, quantity and overall cost. Note anything of special value.
  • Document unique information about valuable items, such as model, age, where purchased, unusual qualities, etc.
  • Record serial numbers of major appliances and electronic equipment.
  • Attach sales receipts and/or appraisals to the inventory list.
  • Photocopy important documents and attach to the inventory list. Keep originals in a safety deposit box.
  • Photograph valuable items against a plain background, next to a ruler. Turn items over to show any hallmark, manufacturer or pattern information.
  • Keep your inventory list updated by documenting any new items acquired.
  • Complete separate inventories for any other home, boat or recreational vehicle you own.
  • Collections and/or specialty items, such as jewelry and art, should be professionally appraised to establish their value. Attach appraisals to the inventory list.

 

Actually replacing value

A good home inventory that is part of a homeowners, renters or condominium owners insurance plan is designed to restore your lifestyle to normal quickly and with minimal additional cost. There are two types of policies designed for this purpose: actual cash value and replacement cost.

Actual cash value policies pay the cost to replace an item after depreciation. Your 10-year old bedroom set might still look good, but it's unlikely you could replace it today for what you paid a decade ago. With an actual cash value policy, you will have to make up the difference.

A replacement cost policy takes into consideration what it would cost to replace the bedroom set at today's prices. You can expect to pay a slightly higher premium for replacement cost coverage.

Read your policy carefully because most homeowners policies have strict limits on certain valuable items, such as jewelry, furs, silver, art, antiques, electronics, guns and other collectibles. You may need to purchase additional insurance, called a rider or floater, to make sure those items are covered properly.

Start here

The inventory form that follows is a good starting point and lists many of the common items most people have in their homes. Don't be surprised if you need to attach an additional sheet marked “other” for each room you inventory. A lifetime of collecting belongings, even if you've just rented your first apartment, can yield a wealth of unique items that express who you are.

To create a consistent “other items” page use the following format on as many sheets as you need.

Other items in (name of room)

Number of items
Description of items
Year Purchased
Cost New
Estimated
Current Value

Living Room

Number of items
Description of items
Year Purchased
Cost New
Estimated
Current Value

Bookcases

Books

Carpets/rugs

CDs, DVDs, records, audiotapes

Chairs

Coffee tables

Collectibles/Knick-knacks

End/Side tables

Entertainment unit

Game units

Games

Lamps/fans/fixtures

Musical instruments

Ottoman

Planters/Plants

Sofas

Sound system

Television/VCR

Videotapes

Wall artwork/Mirrors

Window treatments

Other

Dining Room

Arm chairs

Buffet

Carpets/Rugs

China

China cabinet

Clocks

Collectibles/Knick-knacks

Crystal

Dining table

Glassware

Lamps/Fans/Fixtures

Planters/Plants

Serving pieces

Serving table/Cart

Side chairs

Sideboard

Silverware

Table linens

Wall artwork/Mirrors

Window treatments

Other

Kitchen

Bake ware

Cabinets

Carpets/Rugs

Chairs

Clocks

Collectibles/Knick-knacks

Cutlery

Dishes

Dishwasher

Dryer

Flatware

Food supplies

Freezer

Garbage disposal

Lights/Fans/Fixtures

Linens

Microwave

Planters/Plants

Pots/Pans

Refrigerator

Small appliances

Sound system

Step stool

Stove

Tables

Trash compacter

TV/VCR

Utensils

Wall artwork/Mirrors

Washer

Window treatments

Other

Bedrooms

Accessories

Armoire and contents

Bed frames

Bookcases

Books

Carpets/Rugs

Cedar chest

Chairs

Clothing

Collectibles/Knick-knacks

Computer system and software

Desk and contents

Dressers and contents

Dressing table and contents

Game system and games

Games

Lights/Fans/Fixtures

Linens

Mattress/box spring set

Night tables and contents

Planters/Plants

Radio's/sound system

Sewing machine

Shoes

Toiletries

Toys

TV/VCR/DVD

Wall artwork/mirrors

Window treatments

Other

Bathrooms

Cabinets

Carpets/Rugs

Chairs

Clock

Hampers

Linens

Radio

Scale

Shelving

Shower curtains and hooks

Small electronics

Tables

Toiletries

Wall artwork/mirrors

Window treatments

Other

Attic/Basement/Garage/Playroom

Carpentry tools/supplies

Carpets/rugs

Furniture

Garden tools/Supplies

Indoor games

Lawn mower

Outdoor games

Pantry food items

Pantry housewares

Pantry pet supplies

Pantry storage units

Playroom bookshelves and contents

Playroom electronics

Playroom game tables

Shovels

Snow blower

Sprinkler/Hose

Toys

Wheel barrow

Window treatments

Workbench

Other

Porch/Patio/Garden/Pool

Carpets/Rugs

Chairs

Lounge/Hammock

Ornamental lawn items

Outdoor cooking equipment

Plants/Planters

Playscapes

Pool equipment/Toys/Supplies

Tables

Umbrella

Other

Source: Trusted Choice