Quick: What’s in your house? What would you lose in a fire?
Can you prove it?
Inventorying your house and its contents may seem like a dry exercise. But if disaster strikes, you’ll be armed with the evidence insurers must have to reimburse you and restore your quality of life. Here’s how to get going with this necessary chore.
A Basic Home Inventory and Homeowners Insurance
If you don’t yet have a home inventory, thinking of starting one can seem like a monumental task, especially if you’ve been living in your home for a long time. While the best time to start your list is when you’ve just moved to a new home, it’s not impossible to list items in an existing home. Just start one room at a time. Remember, a partial inventory is better than no inventory at all.
Go room to room and note down every item you see. Try to get serial numbers for the big ticket items, and write down when, where, and for what price you purchased each item. Make sure you remember to go into closets, cupboards, and storage areas and write down the items in these as well.
While some items you own have depreciated in replacement price (televisions, electronics, furniture, etc.), some items may have increased in value (such as art, jewelry, and collectibles). You may need to insure these items separately; check with your insurance agent and find out if your current policy adequately covers these valuables.
Take Pictures or a Video of All Your Belongings
It is a good idea to take pictures or make a video of the items in your home. If you take pictures, write on the back the details of the items in the pictures. If you take a video, narrate as you walk from room to room (what items are in the room, when and where you bought them and for how much). Photographing or videotaping your home’s inventory can be especially helpful if items are hard to describe on paper or for items you do not have receipts for.
Store Your Home Inventory in a Safe Spot
Make sure you store your list, pictures, and/or DVD or video tape in a safe spot. While it’s a good idea to have a copy at home, make sure you have at least one additional copy outside your home. If you only have one copy inside your home (or on your home computer) and your home burns down, that list won’t do you any good.
Store extra copies at a friend or family member’s house, in a safe deposit box, or at work. If your inventory is on your computer, make a disk or CD and store it elsewhere, and/or send your list to yourself at work or to your web-based email account so you can access it in places other than your home.
Keep Those Receipts for Home Insurance Claims
Many of us are not great at keeping our receipts for purchases. Now that you’ve read this article, make sure you keep receipts from now on, especially for those big ticket items. These receipts will help you settle your homeowners or renters insurance claim as quickly as possible. And remember; keep receipts (or copies of them) in a place outside your home, along with a copy of your home inventory.
Homeowners insurance prices can vary by hundreds of dollars from company to company. Make sure you are getting the best rate by comparing quotes from multiple companies at InsWeb today.