The Perfect Time to Update Your Home Inventory List
The holidays are over. The excitement and stress of baking, cooking, shopping and attending an ongoing round of parties will is behind you for another year. All of a sudden, life is quieter and you have some free time on your hands.
Before you get too comfortable in your favourite cozy armchair, however, there’s a task that still requires attention: updating your home inventory list. In fact, doing so is a perfect New Year’s resolution.
Home Inventory Checklist – What Is It?
What is a home inventory list, you might ask? It’s a record, either words or pictorial or both, of all of the items you own – especially those with a high dollar value – that can be used for insurance purposes in case of a fire, theft or flood. When you file a claim in these circumstances, you need to know which of your possessions are gone or damaged and the value of those items. If you have the list, it will alleviate a bit of the stress of a challenging time.
The home inventory list is a list of all your belongings, a description of each item, its make, model and serial number, the value of the item and its approximate purchase date. If you have receipts, credit card statements relating to the purchase or appraisal documentation, they should be attached to the inventory or stored in the same location.
The list will help you determine whether you have the proper amount of insurance coverage and whether your policy covers all of your possessions. If you have particularly valuable items, you may need to add a rider to your policy to ensure they are covered. A conversation with your insurance agent will answer those questions.
A Visual Inventory is Easy
In addition, you’ll want to create a visual record of your possessions so you have proof of ownership. Still photographs or video are both useful.
It makes perfect sense to update your home inventory subsequent to the holidays, because chances are that you have received some gifts you’ll want to add to the list. The longer you wait, there is a chance that some of your new big ticket items won’t be protected, and that’s a distressing thought.
If a crisis does occur, you’ll congratulate yourself for creating a home inventory list, because you won’t have to rely on memory for a list of belongings. During a stressful time, you’re more likely to forget items of importance when you file a claim.
Creating Your Home Inventory
Today, given modern technology, a home inventory list can take various forms. You can create a paper list or online form, use an existing application online, take photos and add video. The more visual information, the better.
Creating a home inventory isn’t difficult; it simply requires time and attention. Follow this series of steps to ensure that your possessions are properly documented and insured.
- Take a Walk. Walk through each room in your house with your spread sheet, tablet computer, camera or video camera in hand. Snap at least four photos of each room, making sure to include each side of the room so that you capture all of your possessions.
- If you are using a video camera, you can add commentary as you focus on individual items, identifying them as you move along.
- Be sure to include areas that aren’t necessarily used daily, such as your basement, laundry room, garage and storage shed. Items in out-of-the-way places can also be valuable or worth documenting. It’s also worth looking into your closets and your drawers to document items stored there that have value. Clothing isn’t cheap to replace, for example, and some of your jewelry might have both actual and sentimental value.
- Make Your List, Check It Twice. Once you have visual documentation of your possessions, enter all the relevant data on a spreadsheet or into a computer application designed for inventories of possessions. The written data provide an important cross-reference for the visual record, as well as key details about the monetary of your possessions.
- Have a Talk. Once you’ve finished your list, discuss it with your insurance agent. He or she can tell you if any of your possessions require special coverage and will be able to see if you’ve missed including anything obvious.
- Better Safe Than Sorry. After your list is completed and approved, store it in a safe place away from your home; try to choose a place that is unlikely to be affected by the same fire or flood that could threaten your home. In today’s digital world, you can store your list and visuals in the cloud, but you might also consider keeping it in a safety deposit box at the bank.
Remember the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Don’t put off this task, as unwieldy as it may sound. Do a room a day until you’re finished, or a room each weekend. No one expects disaster to strike them, but why be unprepared?