With natural disasters regularly in the news, it’s not a bad idea to have a home inventory prepared in case of damage to your home and possessions. Natural disasters can happen anywhere: Houston, Miami, New York City, Boston, Chicago – and one of the key steps in filing a claim with your home insurance company is validating the amount of damage you incurred. As you can imagine, this is usually a very stressful process for most homeowners and it’s easy to overlook important items. At the same time, your insurance company may ask for additional support of damaged or destroyed property. Having a home inventory completed in advance can make your claim process proceed much more smoothly. As a result of the recent wildfires in Colorado, The Denver Post published an article detailing the need for homeowners to have their home inventories in order before disaster strikes. To help you with the process, we’ve detailed five of the most important things to consider in any home inventory.
Detailed Lists of High-Value Items –
These are frequently large and obvious, so there is no reason to miss the big-ticket possessions. Work from room to room through your house. To substantiate the items and their value, have receipts, serial numbers and model numbers, as these can provide a quick reference point. These items usually include appliances, furniture, and electronics. Unlike your clothing and kitchenware, there usually aren’t multiples of the same expense items, so you can, and should, be more detailed with each item. In addition to a written list, consider taking photographs and videos of these possessions.
Lower Value Possessions –
Because you tend to have several of the same items, these may simply require a count or estimate. Clothing items and kitchenware fall into this category. For example, how many pairs of shoes do you own? Unless each pair is of very high value, you are probably better off counting the number of pairs and recording the average value. The same goes for your cups, glasses, dishes, and pots and pans. Consider that many of these items are hidden in closets, drawers, and cabinets. Instead of emptying everything out, you can take photos and videos of the items while they are in their regular storage location.
Safekeeping of the Inventory –
You should keep your home inventory in multiple locations in case you need to access it remotely. With the ease of digital storage, it’s a good idea to back up your electronic home inventory on a cloud-based storage site. Consider what would happen if you lost your home while you were away and did not have an opportunity to return and retrieve it. Copies can also be left at your office, safe deposit box, or with a friend or relative not in your neighborhood. These solutions all provide you multiple solutions to access the completed inventory.
Keep It Up-to-Date –
Your possessions are generally not static, so you should not treat your home inventory in the same fashion. Review the inventory at least annually and update as necessary. Any time you acquire a big-ticket item, update the inventory immediately. When creating the home inventory, consider a format that makes it easy for you to update. The ease with which you can do this will likely factor into how often you actually do it.
Keep Your Insurance In Mind –
Throughout the process, don’t be so focused on the inventory that you neglect the main reason for putting it together in the first place. You need the home inventory to help your insurance claim. Therefore, every time you update your list, you need to consider it in light of your current home insurance policy. Your policy needs to be reviewed and updated to stay compatible with your property. If you have a significant increase in values, your policy should be updated to reflect the increased values. Otherwise, you will fall short in the event you actually have to claim all the items on your home inventory.