What Does Your Home Hold?
No one wants to imagine serious damage to their home, much less its total loss, but that unfortunate (though unlikely) potential makes homeowners insurance a necessity of life. And when you purchase coverage, it’s important to make sure all those personal belongings count—literally. That’s the critical purpose of a home inventory.
Everyone knows the saying, “it’s what’s inside that counts.” In its usual context, of course, it means there’s far more to a person than his or her physical appearance. If you think about it, though, these same few words also could apply to your home. The walls, roof and fixtures around you are obviously incredibly important, but don’t the many diverse items inside your home matter even more?
The idea of conducting a home inventory may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. These basic tips will help you plan for the task.
Decide how you’re going to document and organize your inventory data. Innumerable free templates and samples are available online, or you can develop your own simple spreadsheet using a standard office application. Better yet, if you have personal finance software, it may include a home inventory component.
Once you’ve established a file, divide it into categories—for example, by item type (electronics, furniture, appliances), area of your home (bedroom, kitchen, office) or another way that works for you. Create columns or sections for key information, such as:
- Purchase date
- Make and model
- Quantity (for smaller/grouped items; more on this below)
This information obviously won’t apply to every possession, and specific details may not be available for everything you own. Consider your headings a general guideline for recording as much as you can.
Walk the Walk
Don’t just wrack your brain trying to visualize everything in your home; make a tour of it! Walking through ensures you don’t miss anything (especially anything large and/or valuable) and allows you to take notes as you go. This might require considerable time, so it’s best to set some aside in your schedule. You might also divide and conquer: assign each responsible household member one or more categories to cover.
Taking pictures during your walk-through lets each item tell its own story (and/or paint a thousand words). You could even take video, allowing for both visual documentation and audio-recorded descriptions. For electronics and large appliances, consider taking pictures of serial numbers or other printed information.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (but do account for it)
You don’t have to document every individual book, bath towel or frying pan. For items like these, it’s fine to list as a single item with an estimated count (e.g., coffee mugs – 12). Just be mindful of anything that may be of particular value; group your everyday silverware, but record your antique silver serving spoons separately.
Ensure Safe Storage
Be sure to save your inventory files, including your main document, photos and/or videos, in a way that makes them accessible “off site.” Back them up using cloud storage, or on a disk or hard drive stored in a secure place away from home.
Keep it Fresh
Many people create an initial home inventory but neglect to revise it over time. If you think about all the new things you bring into your home—or remove from it, for that matter, through sale, donation, gifting or discard—over the course of a year, it’s clear that your inventory changes regularly. It’s a good idea to update your inventory at least once a year, or with any major purchase or purge. If you rent, your landlord’s insurance only covers the structure, not your belongings, so a home inventory can help determine what you need for renters insurance.
Like any task related to home safety and security, taking a home inventory will pay off immeasurably if the unexpected should occur. Contact us today to learn more about the coverage you need to protect your home—and all the true value it holds.