By Bailey May
Flooding, fires, storms and burglaries are disasters that all homeowners fear. These unfortunate events put your irreplaceable possessions in danger. Are you prepared if you and your loved ones experience a disaster tomorrow? Does your insurance policy cover all your valuables?
If you don’t already have one, you should draft a home inventory of all your belongings to support your insurance claims.
Why Make a Home Inventory?
Documenting your possessions and their worth can prepare you for the impact of a disaster and help you:
Quickly File a Claim
Did you know that insurance claim headaches after a disaster can be avoided? Documenting your inventory will make it easier on the agent processing your claim and (most importantly) on your family in this highly sensitive time. An electronic file is a great way to go; make sure it's accessible from a variety of devices. Good organization will simplify the claim process.
Determine if You are Insured Properly
Many homeowners don't realize the real value of their possessions until they're forced to place a value on them. The appropriate level of coverage will come from establishing the right amount to help rebuild after a disastrous loss.
Establish Resale Value ASAP
Document how much money you've invested into your home, its upgrades and your belongings. Documentation equals justification for future sales.
Insurance Agent, Crystal Decker, explains that “creating a home inventory list may seem like a gargantuan task, but it will save you time and frustrations if you were to suffer a loss, so set your own pace when it comes to tackling the project of creating your home inventory list. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, though. There are many free apps and websites that provide free downloadable home inventory lists that you can use.”
How Do I Make a Home Inventory?
Creating a home inventory is easier than you think!
Take pictures or videos of everything:
• In every room in your home, take a picture/video of each item that's valuable to you
• Include photos/video of items' serial numbers or document them elsewhere
• If using video, be sure to pause a few seconds at each item so you can identify items when re-watching the video
Write down the value of everything:
• Jot down the original cost (if known)
• If you don’t know the cost, do some light research on the cost of similar items and record that value
Compile receipts and other related documents. Remember that expensive items like jewelry and art need proof of value.
Save your entire inventory off-site and offline.
Save any digital records to a USB or the cloud. If you have physical photos and lists, make copies to hold at work or with a friend.
Keep your inventory updated.
Your inventory can only stay accurate if you update it. Consider doing an inventory refresh every six months. Try making a habit of taking photos or videos of new big-ticket items and storing them with your files.
One can never be too prepared when it comes to your home and belongings. The key to a thorough inventory is to document, document, document and when you think you've documented enough, document some more!
“Protect yourself, and all the things you’ve worked so hard for, by creating a detailed inventory of everything in your house. This is a must for everyone, whether you rent or own your home,” says Decker. “Last September our family moved and I took an inventory of our belongings, but since moving we have bought new furniture, appliances, tack for our horses, etc. and I had not updated my inventory list. Fast forward to just last month, when suddenly at 4:30 a.m. our home was faced with water up to our front steps from flood waters that had come up so quickly like a thief in the night. While my husband and friends worked to build a barrier to keep the water from entering our home, my children and I were forced to pack our belongings as quickly as possible and I suddenly realized I was seeing a lot of stuff that I had not documented for. I snapped pictures as quickly as I could, just in case. Our home was not flooded, thankfully, but so many others in our area were not as fortunate. You never know when a catastrophic event is going to occur, so my best advice is to be prepared - make your home inventory list and then check with your insurance agent to make sure that your personal property limit will cover the amount that you have figured.”