Simplify Homeowners Insurance Claims by Creating a Home Inventory

home inventory

Homeowners insurance serves as a financial safety net for millions of individuals around the country each year. There’s nothing more comforting than knowing that your property and personal belongings will be covered should a natural disaster or other tragic event claim your prized possessions.

But the best way to ensure you will be reimbursed for items lost is to keep track of what you own. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) encourages homeowners to complete this task by creating a home inventory.

Homeowners Insurance and the Importance of a Home Inventory

When many homeowners consider the benefits of their homeowners insurance, they usually think about how their coverage will spare them from homelessness if their properties are destroyed during an unexpected event.

But homeowners insurance offers a tremendous number of perks, including paying for personal property inside the home, property surrounding the home (sheds, landscaping, etc.) and even the cost of time spent away from home during a repair or rebuilding phase.

To make the most of this coverage, the I.I.I. encourages homeowners to keep track of the items they want to have reimbursed if damaged or destroyed during a qualified event.

A home inventory is a record created by the policyholder that keeps track of valuable items in the home. The inventory could include everything from computers, TVs and mobile devices to major appliances, furniture and clothing.

Create Your Home Inventory the Right Way

Many assume that creating a home inventory is as simple as writing out a list of items in the home. But with technology, homeowners have the ability to build an inventory through electronic means that is far more comprehensive and effective in ensuring the right home insurance settlement is paid.

The Insurance Information Institute offers some tips on its website to help homeowners create a home inventory that will get the job done. Here are a few tips to consider as you create your inventory:

  • Start with a list of possessions. The first step in creating your home inventory is creating a list of your possessions. Write down everything of value to you, including furniture (categorize by room), clothing (count items you own by category — pants, shirts, shoes, etc.) and major appliances (write down serial numbers).
  • Note each item’s value. On your list, leave a column to list the value of the item you’ve written down. If you have receipts, purchase contracts or appraisals, clip those to the list. For big ticket items like jewelry or paintings that may have increased in value, be sure to adjust your coverage to accommodate them — or consider purchasing a separate insurance rider specifically for these items (some insurance companies also offer separate coverage for electronic devices).
  • Photograph and videotape items. As you create your list, take a photo of the item so you have visual proof of what you claim should be reimbursed. If you have the ability to video record your items, take the time to do this also (most cell phones have video recording capabilities). After you’ve photographed your items, write descriptions and values for each photo. When recording videos, be sure to verbally describe your items (describe types of dishes, etc.) to give even greater clarity to what you own.
  • Store your inventory properly. After creating a comprehensive home inventory (including list, photos, videos, etc.), to store it properly. Convert your list into a digital list (via a digital spreadsheet or list app on your mobile device) so that you can update it easily when you think of more to add. Also, be sure to place all digital items on a computer hard drive, flash drive, cloud or other backup system). As for physical items, consider placing them in a safe deposit box, or at a friend’s or relative’s home.

Creating a comprehensive home inventory will not only help you get your insurance claims processed faster, but will allow you to verify losses for your income tax return. Additionally, it will allow you to purchase coverage for your home that accurately reflects its value, inside and out.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /