How’s Your Home Inventory?

What is the current state of your home inventory

If you haven’t taken an inventory lately or it has been a while, summer is an ideal time to fill one out, since the weather is nice and your children are home to help you.

However, you might be asking yourself why you should conduct a home inventory. Actually, there are several reasons for this.

You can get back to normal more quickly in the event of a disaster (e.g., burglary, fire, etc.) because you have evidence of what you lost that you can show your insurance company and/or the police.

You can also make sure that your insurance policy limits allow you to replace what’s been lost or damaged…or at least compensate you for what can’t be replaced.

It’s hard enough to deal with the emotional fallout of something that disrupts your life, but when you have to remember everything you own and then provide that list to your insurance company so that your claim is filed, it can be overwhelming.

3 simple steps to make a home inventory

Your belongings can be inventoried in several ways. You can use software, online apps and websites, cameras (photos or video) or even a detailed, handwritten list of what you own.

But as the old saying goes… “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so if you want things to go faster, take pictures and add detailed descriptions.

1. Capture

Record as much detail as possible about each item you film as you walk through your home room by room with your video recorder. The kids can film everything while you take notes by hand or on your tablet or laptop if they have a steady hand. 

Don’t forget to open drawers and cupboards to see if there are any precious items such as family heirlooms and/or jewelry that might not be in plain sight.

2. Document

If you can, obtain as much information as possible, including the serial number, make and model, date of purchase, amount of purchase, etc.

Setting dollar limits and “rarity” levels will save you time. For example, if something costs $10 or less, and you can replace it easily with another, you might disregard it. However, if it would be difficult or impossible to replace, no matter the cost, document it.

3. Store it

Your documentation should be stored safely no matter how you create it, whether it’s in a fire/water-proof safe, in a safe box at your bank, or online. 

Next steps

Don’t forget it

You’ve now accomplished your first task: taking an inventory of your entire house. All you have to do now is remember to update it every year or two at the latest. 

It is easy to keep up with such an inventory online websites and apps, but the most important thing is just to remember to do so regularly.

If you have a home inventory list, make sure that everyone in your household – including those you trust outside your home – knows where to find it so that your insurance company will be notified and your claim will be handled more quickly if there is a disaster.

Make sure your insurance is up to date

And last, but not least, even though your insurance policy may cover a lot of your personal property, it may not be enough to replace everything you own.

It might be time to increase your insurance coverage if the value of your household and personal items exceeds what the insurance will cover.

Note that you might have to get a separate insurance riders to increase your protection if you have pricier items (e.g. jewelry or collectibles).

Insurance coverage for your home’s contents

The contents of a home are generally covered by most home insurance policies at between 50 and 70 percent of the home’s value.

When speaking with your agent, ensure that your contents are covered for replacement cost rather than actual cash value. 

This is important; if your policy uses cash value rather than replacement cost, your payout would be less. This means you would get less money for older items than what it cost you to buy them when they were new. 

A replacement cost policy, however, should pay you what it would cost in today’s prices.

Replacement cost coverage is about 10 percent more expensive, but in the long run, it’s a worthwhile investment.

Additional protection for home items

Standard coverage limits coverage for items such as jewelry, electronics, silverware, and collectibles. Jewelry coverage, for instance, may not exceed $2,000.

Find out what the limits are with your insurance company. Jewelry and electronics are among the top items stolen during home burglaries, so making sure they are properly insured is a good idea.  

Therefore, you may need to modify coverage for items such as these, as well as tools, instruments, art, and family heirlooms. It is possible to raise the liability limit on your policy. Alternatively, you could purchase a special personal property endorsement or floater. With this, you can insure valuables individually or as a collection, with much higher coverage limits.

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