If not – or if it’s been a long time – summer is the best time of the year to do it…the weather is good and since the kids are home, you can enlist their help to get your inventory completed faster.
But first, you might wonder why should you do a home inventory. There are several reasons, actually.
It can help you get your life back to normal more quickly in the event that disaster (e.g. burglary, fire, etc.) strikes because you have documentation of what was lost that you can provide to your insurance company and/or the police.
It can also ensure that your insurance policy limits are sufficient to replace what’s been lost or damaged…or at the least it can compensate you for something irreplaceable.
The emotional fall-out of something that disrupts your life is hard enough to deal with, but when you add the stress of trying to remember everything you owned – and providing that list to your insurance company to ensure your claim is settled – it can be overwhelming.
How to do a home inventory
There are a number of ways you can take an inventory of your belongings. You can use software downloads, online apps and websites, cameras (either photos or video) or just a detailed, hand-written list of what you own.
As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”…so if you want to speed up the process, use detailed photographs and descriptions.
Walk through your home, room by room with a video recorder and record as much detailed information as you can about each item you film. If your kids have a steady hand and want to help, they can film everything while you take notes either by hand or on your tablet or laptop.
Don’t forget to open drawers and cupboards for valuables such as family heirlooms and/or jewelry, that aren’t lying around in plain view.
Get as much detailed information as you can, such as serial number, make and model, date purchased, how much you paid, etc.
To save time and effort, set a dollar and “rarity” limit for yourself. For example, if something costs $10 or less, and can be replaced easily with another you might disregard it. If, however, it would be hard or impossible to replace, no matter the cost, document it.
No matter how you create your home inventory it’s important that your documentation is stored safely, either in a fire-proof, water-proof safe, at another location such as a safe box at your bank, or online, “in the cloud”.
What to do next
You’ve already done the hard part…doing a whole house inventory. Now all you need to do is remember to update it, at least once or twice a year.
While there are online websites and apps that can help you do this easily on a more frequent basis, the important thing to do is to just remember to keep your home inventory up to date regularly.
Tell everyone in the home – and some that you trust outside of your home – about the home inventory list and where it can be retrieved so that in the event of a catastrophe your insurance company can be notified and your claim can be settled more quickly.
Update your insurance coverage
Your insurance policy may have generous coverage of your personal property, but it still may not be enough to replace all of your belongings.
If you find that your valuables are worth more than what the insurance will pay out, it’s time to increase your coverage.
Insurance companies will often have limits on what they will cover for pricier items (e.g. jewelry or collectibles) so you may need to get a separate insurance rider to increase your protection.