It seems simple enough – when you own or rent your residence – the best way to protect all your valuable stuff is by taking inventory. But, you’d be surprised how many people who have homeowners insurance or renters insurance don’t take a full inventory of what they own. They just consider the big stuff and guess at the rest. And, that could cost them dearly if they need to make a claim.
Not surprisingly, no one wants to think that their home will be burglarized, damaged or destroyed. But, each year, according to the Insurance Information Institute, 7 percent of insured homes have some type of incident that results in a homeowners or renters insurance claim.
Should you ever need to file an insurance claim, you’ll have to submit a list of items that have been lost, stolen, or damaged, if you expect to be reimbursed. Keeping a current list of all your possessions at your fingertips will aide in making an already difficult process move a lot smoother and get your insurance claim settled faster.
Below are some guidelines you may want to follow when compiling your home inventory.
- Keep the game plan simple
Don’t attack the whole place at once. Deal with one room at a time, or inventory your goods by category, age, or price. The process can be consuming and tiring, so set a pace that works for you and isn’t overwhelming. Take the inventory seriously and make it as complete as possible.
- Photograph or video
By keeping a visual record of your items with photos or video is an excellent way to create a record of your stuff, even more so when it comes to things you’re not sure how to describe, price or replace. Include a description on the back of the photos or a caption on digital shots, and if using video, narrate as you move from item to item. Get various angles of more intricate possessions.
- What should you record
As you compile your list, describe the item, including brand/model, date and location of purchase, purchase price, current value and replacement cost. Use home inventory software available online to simplify the process.
- Pay close attention to your big-ticket items
Once a visual record has been made of your high-end items, jot down the serial numbers and how much you paid. Next, you’ll want to check to see if those items are adequately covered under your policy. If necessary, you may need to add a rider to cover items like paintings, antiques and jewelry, separately.
- Be aware that prices fluctuate
While it’s impossible to know the exact price of all your belongings because of depreciation, their value could drop. If you file a homeowners or renters insurance claim, you’ll be expected to estimate the cost to replace your lost, stolen, or damaged items. Or, you could be at the mercy of your insurance company to come up with a price that is often a low-ball estimate.
- Store inventory list in a safe place – outside your home
You may want to keep your inventory list in a safe place. Ideally, you want to have several copies that you can store outside the home, such as at work, at a friend’s or family member’s home, or in your email.
- Hold onto your receipts
This can’t be stressed enough – but hold onto your receipts, most of all for big ticket items. File the original or a copy outside your home for safe keeping with your home inventory list.
- Check everywhere
Remember to check beyond the obvious. Look inside closets, the garage, attic, anywhere you may have items of value such as tools, clothes, and other things you might need to replace.
Whether you own or rent your home, what you have in it deserves attention. Don’t rely on your memory or it could cost you. The same can be said if you don’t have renters insurance or homeowners insurance that doesn’t cover everything you own. Make sure you’re getting the best rates. Why not get a free renters insurance quote or a free homeowners insurance quote today?
Are you a stickler for details when it comes to keeping a complete inventory of your valuable stuff? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.