A home inventory is a list of all your personal possessions along with their approximate financial value. It can be valuable when you need to file a claim because it helps your insurance company verify your damaged property. That not only helps you get your claim settled faster, but it also minimizes your chances of forgetting to include an item in your claim.
Some people even inventory their items before they apply for home insurance. That way they get a better sense of how much personal property coverage they need.
In fact, 49 percent of homeowners have made a home inventory of their belongings.
Do I need a home inventory for insurance purposes?
Your insurance company most likely won’t require you to have a home inventory, but it might ask for a sworn proof of loss when you file a claim. “Sworn proof of loss” is an official, notarized sworn statement demonstrating the facts about your loss, the scope of damage, and the value of your personal items that were lost, damaged, or stolen in a way that’s covered by your homeowners policy.
That can be a lot to deal with, especially if you’re dealing with, say, the aftermath of a hurricane. But if you do a room-by-room home inventory before trouble hits, you have many of the documents you need to support your claim. This typically results in a faster, more accurate claims settlement. Plus, you’ll be able to prove eligibility for tax deductions or disaster assistance.
Another good reason to take inventory of your belongings is to make sure you get enough personal property coverage. Listing the value of each individual item presents a clearer picture of how much you’d be out if you suffered a total loss.
What should be included in a home inventory?
A good home inventory should have the following information when it’s available for each item of personal property:
- A description, including the make and model
- The estimated value
- Purchase date
- Serial number
- Purchase contracts and appraisals
Remember to include off-site items in your home inventory, such as belongings you keep at a storage facility or in a garage. Home insurance policies typically cover those items.
How do I organize my home inventory?
How you organize your home inventory depends on what makes sense for you. Maybe you want to focus on your valuables first. Or perhaps you’d rather go room to room. Whichever way you start, you can use our handy home inventory template and worksheet to keep track.
Here are some tips for organizing your home inventory:
- List high-value items, such as jewelry, artwork, furs, and collectibles. A standard homeowners insurance policy often doesn’t have enough coverage for these items, so you may need scheduled personal property coverage to insure their full value.
- Take pictures of rooms and important individual items.
- Video record your home as you walk through it and describe 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.
- Don’t give away your only copy. When you file a homeowners insurance claim, don’t give the original inventory or item receipts to anyone, not even your claims adjuster. Make a copy instead.
- Keep your home inventory up to date – remove items you no longer have and add new items as you acquire them.
After your inventory is complete, compare the estimated value of your belongings against your insurance coverage. The easiest way to do that is to look at your declarations page. It lists each coverage type with the dollar amount your insurance company pays for that type of claim.
Your personal property is covered by Coverage C, but it may also be noted on your dec page as coverage limits for “contents.” Whatever it’s called, check the limits. Does it appear to be enough to replace all of your furniture, rugs, curtains, clothes, appliances, and other possessions? If not, call your insurance provider to discuss increasing your limit.