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Making a Home Inventory

Can you name each and every item you own? Do you know their values? How about their serial numbers? Setting up a home inventory file is essential in case your memory fails you during a stressful time. An inventory of all your important possessions and collections will be indispensable in deciding how much insurance to purchase, as well as in the event you need to file a claim.

Why Do You Need a Home Inventory?

you ever need to file a claim because some of your property has been stolen, damaged, or destroyed in a fire or flood, you’ll need proof you had it in the first place. Ideal documentation for every item includes: a description, some photos to show the condition (and authenticity if necessary), serial number (if applicable), purchase date, estimated value, and receipt. If you’re missing some of the information, like the receipt or purchase date, that’s probably okay as long as you have good photographs. The inventory should include anything and everything of even moderate value to you. Instruments, computers, recreation and sport equipment, antique furniture, artwork, china, collectables, jewelry, and expensive wardrobe items are all good examples.

Building the Inventory

The idea of cataloging everything you own probably seems daunting, especially if this is the first you’ve ever thought about it. The good news is it’s not difficult, just a little time consuming. You don’t have to get it all done in one day; make a habit of spending a couple hours a week on it until everything important is covered. Here’s some advice on how to get started:

  • Make a video walk–through of every room of your house. This will help to give you an overview of what you have and some clues as to how to organize the inventory.
  • Check with your insurer for a home inventory checklist. Even though it may be pretty basic, it will help you get an idea for different categories and will help ensure you don’t overlook anything.
  • Build up your documentation electronically. There’s plenty of proprietary software available for this, but a DIY spreadsheet or database will serve you just as well. Keep a copy of your file on a home laptop or computer so you can keep it updated, but make sure there are off-site copies. A good idea is to keep one in a cloud service (or two) and another on a USB drive tucked away in a safe-deposit box.
  • Make sure to keep your list up to date. As soon as you acquire anything important, take some photos and file away the receipt.
  • Double-check the valuations of items that appreciate over time. Your jewelry or art may be worth more now than it was 10 years ago.

Hopefully, you’ll only ever use your inventory to determine how much insurance to buy. If something does happen, you’ll be extremely relieved you went through the effort. It’s the old umbrella analogy: if you’re taking a walk, better to be carrying one while it’s sunny out than be stuck in the pouring rain without!

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