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If you had to list everything you own in your home, could you do it? Would you be able to come up with receipts or serial numbers for each of your more expensive belongings? You might think you have a good idea of all the things you own, but take a few minutes to try to list every item from big to small that you would need to replace if something happened to your home and you’ll quickly realize it’s not as easy as it might seem. That’s where a home inventory comes in. 

Why you need a home inventory

While it’s not pleasant to think about a fire destroying your home or a thief stealing your belongings, we all know that we have to protect ourselves from those risks by purchasing homeowners, condo, or renters insurance. While those policies will help pay for the damage of an unexpected event that results in the loss of your belongings, you’ll need to be able to tell your insurance company what needs to be replaced. 

Not having a full list of the belongings that need to be replaced could slow down the claims process or even result in you receiving a smaller claim payment than what would cover your lost items. 

Chances are that after an event like a fire or break-in, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of different issues as a result, and putting together a list of your possessions will be the last thing you want to spend your time doing. Having a home inventory can make the process much less stressful and time-consuming, so start working on one today – or update yours if it’s been a while.   

What you should include 

Try to include this information for each item in your home inventory:

  • Description of the item, including quantity, manufacturer, and model number
  • Where it’s located
  • Serial number
  • Purchase date
  • Cost 
  • Estimated replacement value 
  • Copy of receipt, if you have it 
  • Photo/video of the item 

Chances are you won’t have all of this information for every item in your home – that’s okay. Focus on the bigger, more expensive items first. The goal is to eventually have a detailed list of all of your items, but an incomplete home inventory is better than not having one at all! For more general items like clothing (not including expensive suits or dresses) you can simply provide a count of each category. You might find it easier to start with newer purchases and work backward, as documentation of more recent purchases will be easier to find. 

How to make a home inventory 

Start by setting up a document where you will input your information. There are many pre-made worksheets online to help you get started – just search “home inventory worksheet” to find one that will work for you. There are also several apps that are made for this purpose.

Begin by dividing your home into categories – you can group types of items (electronics, clothing, holiday decorations, etc.) or organize the list by rooms (kitchen, bedroom, dining room). Add each item to your worksheet or app, including as much detail as possible. Try to fill out as many of the above items as possible, and scan in any physical receipts you have. 

It can be helpful to take photos or video of your entire home, room by room, to get a visual representation of all of the items you own. Don’t forget to capture items inside cabinets, closets, drawers, and storage areas like the basement and your garage. Also, include any items that are kept outside of the home. 

Store all of the documentation, photos, video files, and any other assets in one folder. Keep a copy of the inventory on a portable flash drive or another storage device that you can store in a secure location outside of your home. Also, be sure to keep the inventory on file with your insurance agent. 

Make sure to update your home inventory at least once per year to add any new items and remove ones you’ve gotten rid of. If you purchase any high-value items in between updates, be sure to add those as soon as you can.

Update your insurance policy based on your documentation

If you finish your home inventory and realize your valuables are worth more than you thought, it’s time to call your local agent and get your policy updated. Your policy has specific coverage limits, so make sure to check yours. Is it enough to replace all of the items you just added to your inventory? One thing to consider is whether your policy covers the replacement value of your items – not the actual cash value, or the depreciated value. And don’t forget to add earthquake or flood insurance if you’re in an area prone to those risks – otherwise, your belongings may not be covered if those events occur. 

Now that you’ve taken the time to inventory all of your possessions, it’s crucial that you have the right coverage to replace those items if anything happens to them. We’re here to help! Drop us a line below and we’ll help you feel confident that you have the right coverage and that all of your possessions are covered.

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