As a property owner or tenant, think about all of your valuable possessions (furniture, jewelry, artwork, electronics, musical instruments, sports equipment and more) — the items you love and you’ve worked hard for. These are your treasured belongings and sometimes you may not think about the unexpected like theft, a fire or a natural disaster.
If you have to make an insurance claim, would you remember everything you owned, and more importantly, how much it all cost? It can be extremely difficult to figure what’s missing or damaged after a loss and while experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. A home inventory can help you record all of your possessions in one convenient record so you can identify your property if it’s stolen or damaged; get an accurate replacement value; and return to a normal life faster!
Here are some easy steps to help you start your home inventory:
- Tour your home. Let’s face it, we generally know what we have in our home, but it’s easy to forget items. So, take the time to walk through each room and make a list of all of your valuable possessions. It may seem like a daunting task, but you need to make sure your inventory is as accurate as possible. If you put in a little effort now, the process will be less time consuming in the future.
- Play paparazzi. I suggest walking through each room of your home and taking a picture from a few different angles (or even video footage) so you have a record of what each room looks like and you will also capture everything in its place. Then, take close up photos of all of your valuable possessions in each room and attach them to your inventory. If you renovate any rooms, just remember to take new pics!
- Take notes. When recording high value items like electronics and antiques, make sure you record makes and models, appraisals (where appropriate) and serial numbers (you can also use these as part of the naming convention of your photos when you upload them). If these items are stolen, you’re more likely to have them returned if found in a pawn shop or by law enforcement.
- Hold on to important documents. Attach receipts to your inventory. It’s also a good idea to hang on to warranties and instruction manuals which can serve as proof of ownership to an insurance adjuster. Remember: your insurance company can’t go by your word alone, so it’s in your best interest to have proof to help ensure you are compensated according to the terms of your insurance policy.
- Don’t forget the small stuff. The first time I recorded (or tried to!) my family’s possessions, I forgot small items like books, holiday decorations, tools in the garage, and more. But, these items can easily add up. So don’t forget the items you may think are not so important, but can amount to hundreds of dollars! Also, don’t ignore items in the basement, attic, garage, drawers and closets.
- Secure your inventory. Always keep an extra copy of your home inventory in a secure place like a safety deposit box, or you can choose to use a secure online home inventory tool. I recommend keeping a few hard copies of your inventory or keep an extra USB with a digital version of your inventory. Just make sure you know how you have saved or recorded your inventory, where copies of your inventory are, and who has access to them!
- Keep it current. Once your home inventory is in place, the hard part is done. However, it’s really important to keep it up-to-date. Think about all of the new items you can amass in just a year or two — the latest iPad, golf clubs and that “must-have” designer purse. Get in the habit of taking pictures of your new purchases right away and adding photos and receipts to your inventory so your total value is current and you won’t have to restart from the beginning! And don’t forget to remove items you no longer have.
- Call your agent. After conducting a home inventory, it’s a good idea to walk through your home insurance policy with your agent and review the value of your possessions to see if you need more coverage. While most of your possessions are covered under a typical property insurance policy, you may need more coverage if the value exceeds certain limits. For example, some home policies have limits in terms of jewellery and/or collectibles, so it’s a good idea to look into obtaining endorsements or extra coverage to ensure the value of your possessions is fully insured. And if you’re a tenant, you will need contents insurance. You’ll also want to check if your policy has replacement costs or cash value at the time of loss. “Underinsured” is not a word you want to hear, especially after a loss occurs.
- Other benefits of having an inventory. Aside from keeping track of your valuable possessions and making the claims process run more smoothly, a home inventory can:
– Highlight whether you need extra coverage or endorsements.
– Help speed up the claims process.
– Indicate beneficiaries for valuable items.
– Aid in the moving process to ensure you arrive with everything on your list!
A little effort now can help save you time and inconvenience trying to create a list of your beloved belongings if the unexpected happens. So, what are you waiting for? Take inventory!
Do you have a home inventory? What tips did you find handy when creating it? Let us know in the comments below.