Q: I’m updating my home insurance policy and saw a recommendation to create a “home inventory.” There’s a ton of stuff in my home, so I’m not sure where to start. I’m hoping you can help: What does a home inventory typically include and how do I get started?
We posed this question to Brent Northcutt, a Farmers Insurance® agent based in Granbury, Texas. Here’s what he had to say about the importance of an accurate home inventory.
A: After a major incident resulting in loss of property, your stress level can go sky high. In fact, it can be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. Now, imagine having to recall, in as much detail as possible, every piece of personal property you may have lost. Stress, anxiety and grief can all cloud your memory, making it difficult to be sure you’ve listed every important piece of property on your insurance claim. An accurate and up-to-date home inventory can provide a helpful record of your belongings, and may save you a world of heartache during a difficult time.
There are a few ways to keep track of your thorough home inventory.
First, I recommend recording every valuable, which could include art, jewelry, firearms, electronics, sports equipment, heirloom pieces such grandfather clocks, china and other collectibles.
For each of the major items, you should include a description, serial number if you have it, date purchased, along with purchase price or estimated or appraised value. If you have receipts, save copies with your inventory. When working with your insurance company on a claim to settle the personal property portion of a loss, any additional details you can provide are helpful.
Also, don’t forget the property in your attic and basement. The most overlooked items left off of a home inventory are usually found in the attic or basement because we tend to put things in boxes and forget about them. When doing an inventory, be sure to label the outside of the box with a list of the contents, and then record an image of those items.
Once you have a home inventory, make sure to keep it updated by adding new purchases to the list, and re-evaluating older items over time.
Aside from providing a record of your valuable items in case of a claim, a home inventory can be a great exercise to help you more accurately determine your property coverage needs. One thing I’ve noticed in more than 20 years of working on video inventories with customers: people often discover they aren’t comfortable with the amount of personal property coverage they have. Over the years, we accumulate more property than our policies might have covered when we first purchased them. Be sure to go over your home inventory with your agent in order to determine if you have enough coverage for everything that is important to you.
And don’t forget to think about where you store your inventory. If you opt for a written inventory with pictures, scan and save a digital copy or keep a hard copy in a safe deposit box outside of your home. Your home inventory does no good if it’s lost in a fire or other unforeseen event with all your valuables.
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