Close your eyes. Now, name every valuable item in your home. Can you? Probably not.
A report by the National Fire Protection Association estimates an average of 346,800 homes suffer a structure fire each year. While no one expects their home to be involved in a fire, flood, or other natural disaster, it’s important to be ready for such an event.
By creating a home inventory, you’ll have a record of your valuables and personal belongings, which you can send to your insurance company as part of a claim. While you might be thinking your home doesn’t contain many valuable items, we bet you’ll be surprised. The cost of replacing everything can be exorbitant and a real financial burden if you don’t have a home inventory or the proper coverage.
So what’s the easiest way to create a home inventory for your insurance claim and what should be in your home inventory? We’ve got those answers below.
Creating the best home inventory
Your insurance company will want the following information in your home inventory:
- A detailed list of your possessions.
- The serial or model number of each item and manufacturer.
- The item’s value.
- Date of purchase.
- Receipts and appraisals of any large items.
Complete vs. complex
Accompanying this information should be some representation of your item, so you’ll need to add photos or videos of your items or rooms. Your most expensive items, such as a flat-screen TV or jewelry, should have their own photos. However, here at vipHomeLink, we believe your home inventory should be “complete” rather than “complex.”
In that spirit, we recommend going room by room and taking four pictures, one of each section of the room. This way, you will have all the items in the room for reference along with your notes. That should give your insurance company the information they need for the claims process.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
You don’t have to finish your home inventory all in one day. Treat it with the same care you would a DIY renovation or repair. Take an hour or two a week or allot yourself one room a week until you finish your home inventory list.
What should be in your home inventory (hint: everything)
Here is a quick home inventory checklist to capture your most important items:
Big-ticket items: Home inventories are not just for artwork and antiques. (Of course, you should include those, too.) Important items like power tools, lawn mowers, televisions, collectables, memorabilia, musical instruments, jewelry, and other valuables, should be on your inventory, too.
Check out these tips per room:
- Kitchen: Take photos of your major appliances and if possible, scan the barcodes, QR codes, or serial numbers. Don’t forget your cookware!
- Bedrooms: Closets are filled with clothes and accessories that should be included in your home inventory.
- Den/Home Office: Include electronics in your pictures – computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, and even game consoles.
- Living Room: If you have the receipts for your TV, soundbar, smart home tech, etc., take a picture of those, too.
- Dining Room: Grandma’s expensive china must be photographed.
- Basement/Attic: Most homeowners forget these areas, and some of your most expensive possessions might be found here. Document with care.
- Garage: Any bikes, grills, power tools, lawn mowers, and outdoor furniture stored in your garage should be in your photos, too.
Smaller-ticket items: These are equally important, and you probably have more of them. When documenting items such as clothing, cookware, and 1500 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, you don’t need to be quite as specific. Listing these items such as “20 shirts” and “4 baking dishes” usually is enough, unless some items are very high-end designer products. If you have any questions, be sure to check with your insurance carrier or agent.
How home inventory enhances your insurance policy
Having a home inventory also helps you confirm you have the right amount of coverage or will highlight a gap that you need to cover. After all, some of your more expensive items may require extra insurance coverage. Once you have your home inventory complete – or you uncover one of your most prized possessions – give your insurance agent a call to check.
Update your inventory as needed
While you should review your homeowners insurance policy annually, you should update your inventory as needed. Did you get a new necklace for your birthday or receive a large gift for retirement? Make sure to add these items to your home inventory, along with a picture or video of the item. Then reach out to your agent to see if you need additional coverage.
Where to keep your inventory
Making a digital copy of your home inventory is the most imperative part of creating it. Even if you’ve written out the items and have physical pictures, you still need to scan these items and create a digital copy of the home inventory, just in case a home disaster destroys your hard copy.
We have a simple solution. The vipHomeLink home management app has a journal where you can upload your photos and videos, and a notes section where you can store product information. This section can also be used for all your home documents – from your insurance policy to your home warranty to any receipts for home maintenance tasks.
Download the app!
We want you to have – but never need – a home inventory, so leverage our personalized reminders for home maintenance and tailored recommendations for home improvement to help prevent a fire in your home. The app also keeps your home information in one, secure place, right at your fingertips.
Subscribe to the vipHomeLink app now with a monthly or annual membership.
Already a member? Add a home inventory to your journal or complete your inventory today!
Originally posted on Nov. 6, 2019; updated on Oct. 21, 2020