Protecting your possessions is an important reason to purchase homeowners insurance, renters insurance, or condo insurance. As time passes, most of us acquire more things that have sentimental value as well as monetary value. If you have items like this, it's a good idea to maintain an ongoing inventory of your belongings even after you've purchased homeowners or renters insurance.
Though it may not be something we like to think about, having a home inventory on file can help expedite any claims you may have to make on your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Your insurance company can resolve your claim faster if you have documentation of an item that's damaged or stolen from your house. In addition to faster claims, a home inventory can help with filing accuracy and help you determine how much insurance to purchase, too.
Here are a few tips to help you complete this seemingly daunting task rather easily.
The good news is you can create your home inventory list at any time. While it might be easier to start your inventory when you're just getting started in a new home, you can still complete a home inventory if you've lived in the same house for years.
If you purchase homeowners or renters insurance for the first time, make it a goal to complete your inventory within a set period of time. You may want to take an inventory of your home before you purchase your policy so you can get an idea of how much insurance to purchase. You can finalize your inventory after you buy your policy, in case you discover items that insurance covers that weren't in your original inventory.
If you switch insurance companies, complete an inventory then if you haven't already, or update your existing inventory to make sure all items are accounted for with your new policy.
Whether you use software you purchased, a list provided by your insurance company, or a downloaded sheet from the Internet, choose what type of inventory you feel most comfortable with to get started. Often, you can find free inventories online. You may want to complete a paper inventory as you walk through your house, then transfer that information to your computer for electronic filing and safekeeping.
As you itemize your list, take pictures or video of everything. If you have a digital camera, you can easily photograph items in your house and print, store or upload them online. Plus, you can enable the time stamp function on your camera to show when you took the pictures. If you have a video camera, you can narrate your home inventory, then store the video on a memory card, on tape or online, depending on the type of camera you have.
To make your home inventory easier, break it into sections and complete it over a span of a few days. This can help keep your eyes fresh so you don't overlook items. Record all items in a specific room, then move to the next room once you're satisfied with your list.
If you have items that are worth about $500 or more, document these as thoroughly as possible. This includes taking specific pictures of these items, as well as including make and model numbers for valuable appliances. Make sure you keep any receipts or documentation (such as appraisals) for these items, too.
Once you've completed your inventory, review it with someone else who can help you verify you've covered everything. Do a walk-through with the person to see if they notice anything else that should be added to your home inventory.
In general, it's a good idea to review your home inventory every two years or so to account for any items you've acquired. Remember to document the new items and keep any paperwork you have for them, too.
Make sure you keep a copy of your inventory for yourself, whether it's stored online, on your computer, or in a safe place, such as a fire-proof box or a safe, to prevent damage to it. You also can store it away from home in a safe deposit box or a friend or relative's fire-proof box or safe. The goal is to make sure you can easily access your home inventory if you ever need to make a claim on your homeowners insurance policy.
Finally, be sure to provide a copy of your inventory to your insurance company.
Following these simple steps can help you complete your home inventory efficiently, and it can help resolve any claims as quickly and as accurately as possible.
The information in this blog may vary based on your particular state or situation. Always refer to your insurance policy for your specific coverages.