What Is a Home Inventory?

A home inventory is an up-to-date record of your possessions and can be invaluable when you need to file a claim. It helps your insurance company verify your damaged property, which helps you get your claim settled faster. It can also help you make sure you have enough insurance to protect your belongings. And lastly, this list can help you verify losses from a claim for your income tax return.

That's a lot of use for one list!

Because a home inventory is so useful, it's important to keep it somewhere safe – it won't do you much good if it's also destroyed in the catastrophe you'd need it for. So make a backup copy of your inventory, receipts, supporting documentation, and any photos you take and store them online (Dropbox or Google Drive are both good options for safe online storage).

How to Make a Home Inventory

Start your home inventory by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting the make, model, serial number where possible and where each item was purchased. Include sales receipts (or an estimated current value), purchase contracts, and appraisals if you have them. It's also smart to take photos of high-value items and electronics. 

We know it may sound daunting to catalog all your earthly possessions, so create a system that breaks up the work. For example, it may make sense to complete one room at a time. Or perhaps you'd rather get your valuable items squared away first then move on to your remaining belongings. Choose an approach that feels manageable and works for you.

Here are some additional tips to help you organize your home inventory:

  • List high-value items, such as jewelry, artwork, furs, and collectibles. These items may not be included in a standard insurance policy and may require additional scheduled coverage to insure their full value.
  • Take pictures of rooms and important individual items.
  • Video record your home by walking through it and describing the contents throughout the house.
  • Save an inventory list on your personal computer and keep a copy online. If you're feeling old school, you can put your photos, inventory list, and video recording in a safety deposit box.
  • For ease of reference, organize clothing into categories.
  • Keep your home inventory up to date – removing items you no longer have and adding new items as you acquire them.

Remember: even  an inventory that is light on details is better than no inventory at all. 


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