: Home inventory list
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Home inventory list -
Losing a home in a disaster is one of the most devastating experiences a person can have. So in addition to buying enough insurance and making your home as secure as you can, there is one simple thing you can do to prepare for a disaster: Create a home inventory.
Why? Because preparing an inventory after a total loss for insurance or taxes is very painful, difficult and time-consuming. And, especially after a traumatic loss, it’s impossible to remember everything you had, so most people never collect their full insurance benefits.
If you have a smart phone with a camera, walk around the inside and outside of your home, narrating as you go by describing features of your home and personal property items. Store the file in a secure online location where you’ll be able to find it. Your own computer or a storage cloud if you have one.
UP offers several pieces of information to help you create a more detailed inventory:
The UP Home Inventory Spreadsheet.
UP Home Inventory Spreadsheet (Excel) – Complete on any computer. All you need is a computer and Excel (comes with Microsoft Office) to use it. We created it by combining actual lists that past disaster survivors made to get paid in full on their insurance claims into one extensive spreadsheet that lists every conceivable item you might find in a home. Benefit from their hard work and ours by selecting items on this comprehensive list to create your own list of what you have or had in your home.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR CREATING YOUR INVENTORY AS A SPREADSHEET:
There are two ways to fill out the UP Home Inventory Spreadsheet. You can fill in the contents of the spreadsheet on your computer and save it on a secure computer or flash drive, or you can print out the individual sheets and complete it by hand. Either way, you will be making the right start toward disaster preparedness and “Insurance Assurance”.
The UP Home Inventory includes common items that are found in most homes, but you can add any additional items or change the items listed to personalize your inventory. Remember that insurance fraud is a felony, so be sure to include only items you actually own. While we encourage you to complete every column, if you only have limited time, complete the description, quantity and age of each item, and add cost information in later. .
Don’t worry about filling in the “% value” column unless you are using the inventory to file an actual insurance claim. This column describes the current value of the item. It is helpful to know if your insurance policy pays Actual Cash Value (ACV) or Replacement Cost (RC) for personal property items. Most policies these days are RC and are supposed to cover the cost of replacing an item (present day value), but if you have an ACV on contents policy, you will need to estimate current values.
We also offer an example of a personal property inventory that was created by UP volunteer Julie Robinson whose home was destroyed in a 2003 wildfire in San Diego. You can find this example in Sample Claim and Proof of Loss Forms.
– Use a scanner to make copies of important documents, and store them on a flash drive or in file folders.
– Update your inventory as you acquire new items, remove items you no longer have. Scan and add upload receipts.
– Photograph the inside and outside of your home, or walk through and take a video with your phone, and upload the images onto your flash drive or your online file storage system.
– Store your inventory in a secure place away from your home, such as your office, or a safe deposit box, or in a trusted online storage system. Or, email your inventory to a trusted friend and ask them to save it for you. This way, if you ever need the information for insurance or tax purposes, it will be easy to access.
Lastly, remember that doing at least something to prepare is always better than doing nothing at all.
Preparing for a disaster will help you maximize your insurance protection
Use our buying tips to benefit from lessons learned by disaster victims on where they came up short and what they wish they’d known and done before they had a loss.
If you’re going to spend money buying insurance, spend time buying the right coverage from a reputable company, and do what you can to reduce the likelihood of damage. Most insurers will reduce your premium if you make your property more resistant to damage. UP pushes insurers to offer bigger discounts so people can afford to make their property more damage resistant. When you’re comparison shopping for insurance, find out which company offers the biggest discounts for “mitigation” and/or “retrofitting”, and;
- Clear brush from around your home
- Clean out gutters and roof drains regularly
- Invest in fire resistant building materials
- If you live in earthquake zones, read this Homeowner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety (pdf)
- Alarm and sprinkler systems generally get you a premium discount
And, make sure to keep emergency supplies on hand in a location that will be accessible to you in the event of a disaster. Consider buying a kit such as the one sold by Your Safety Place: When you buy a kit from Your Safety Place, enter promo code: UPH20 and receive 20% off your purchase.
• For additional information on Apps for Taking Home Inventory read this article in the New York Times.
• Here’s a link to the Red Cross basic earthquake preparedness information.
• Tips and remodeling techniques for preventing fire damage to your home
You Really Need A Home Inventory
Are you dreaming of a splurge or two, like a shiny piece of jewelry or a gigantic TV? You’re in good company. More than 50% of U.S. consumers expect to spend extra on themselves in 2021, according to an analysis by McKinsey & Co. And of those looking to treat themselves, about half are planning to spend on discretionary items like apparel, beauty and electronics.
But are you keeping track of all that well-deserved stuff you’re acquiring? How would you replace your belongings if your house burned down or a thief ransacked your apartment? And would you even remember all of the things you’ve gathered over the years?
That’s where a good home inventory comes in. A home inventory can:
- Speed up your insurance claim because you won’t spend time trying to make an inventory after damage has already been done.
- Maximize your claim payment because you won’t forget any of your belongings.
It can make your life a lot easier as you begin the process of replacing your stuff.
What Should Be Included in a Home Inventory?
A good home inventory should have the following information:
- A description of the item, including the make and model (if applicable)
- Estimated value of the item
- Purchase date
- Serial number
You’re obviously not going to have receipts for everything you own. But for general categories, like clothing, you can provide a count. For example, “Six pairs of jeans, 10 dress shirts, two pairs of sneakers.” But make sure to note any valuable items, like an expensive suit or dress.
And don’t forget off-site items, such as belongings you keep at a storage facility. Your homeowners insurance policy may cover items at off-site facilities from problems like theft and fire.
How Do I Make a Home Inventory?
A home inventory can be as simple as a written list, pictures or video. Or use a home inventory app to help you compile your list. As you inventory your personal belongings, don’t forget all of your drawers, closets, attic, basement and if you’re brave, take a look under your bed.
However you decide to create a home inventory, the key is to be as detailed as possible and to store a copy of the inventory outside your home. For example, you can store an electronic copy in a cloud service or keep a hard copy with a relative.
You’ll also want to update your home inventory on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to update it every year. That way you can add any items you’ve acquired or delete items you’ve gotten rid of.
Make a List
A list can be as simple as a pen and paper or a spreadsheet on your laptop. Here are some organizing tips to get you started:
- Organize your list by room. Pick a room and record all of the contents. For example, start in your living room and list everything, like your TV, coffee table, recliner and sofa. Don’t forget the small stuff, like books, knickknacks and decorations on your shelves.
- Organize your list by groups of items. Or, group together items like antiques, artwork, clothes, collections, jewelry, kitchen items, furniture, musical instruments and miscellaneous items.
Take Photos and/or Video
If you have a smartphone, you have the tools you need to record your personal belongings with photos or video. Take a walk through your house and capture each item. If possible, get a clear shot of the serial number. If you’re taking a video, it’s a good idea to describe the item, its estimated value and the date of purchase.
Using a Home Inventory App
You can use an app for your smartphone or tablet to list items, store photos and video. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently launched a home inventory app (available in the App Store or through Google Play) that has the ability to:
- Group belongings by category
- Scan barcodes for accuracy
- Upload and export photos
- Find disaster preparation advice
- Review information about filing insurance claims
Here are more home inventory apps.
Some apps may not be available on all operating systems and may require in-app purchases.
Re-Evaluate Your Insurance on Valuable Items
While you’re documenting all of your stuff, it’s a good time to take a look at high-value items such as jewelry, musical instruments, artwork and electronics. That’s because homeowners insurance might put a special sub-limit on certain types of items.
For example, a common homeowners insurance policy puts a $1,500 limit on theft coverage for jewelry and watches. If you have valuable items, you can “schedule” them. Scheduled personal property is an add-on to homeowners, condo or renters insurance to insure high-value items for their full value.
Quick Tips for Insuring Your Possessions
- A homeowners insurance policy will have specific coverage limits for “contents,” meaning your possessions. Check your policy’s declarations page to see what your contents limit is. Does it appear to be enough to replace all of your furniture, rugs, curtains, clothes, appliances and other possessions?
- Make sure your policy covers the replacement value of your possessions, not the actual cash value. An actual cash value payment would pay your only the depreciated value of your items, not new replacements.
- If you live in an area that’s prone to earthquakes or floods, you could consider earthquake insurance or flood insurance. Without them, your home and belongings won’t be covered in these disaster situations.
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Before a catastrophe strikes and you’re faced with a loss, make a home inventory – lists, pictures or a video of the contents of your home. After all, would you be able to remember all the possessions you’ve accumulated over the years if they were destroyed by a fire? Do you know the make, model and serial number of your 60 inch LED TV if it was stolen during a burglary of your home?
The most commonly known reason for a home inventory is to recover from a loss. Most homeowners don’t realize they need this list until after the fact, when the insurance adjuster explains the claim process. Then it’s too late. It is impossible to remember everything without a reference document. In today’s economy, financial recovery is even more important than in years past. To be able to replace all that was lost, because you are able to maximize your insurance claim, is extremely important.
According to a 2012 survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), more than half of Americans don’t have a home inventory of their possessions, putting them at risk for inadequate home insurance coverage, should severe weather strike.
- Survey results show 59 percent of consumers have not made a list or inventory of their possessions. Of those individuals with a home inventory, 48 percent do not have receipts; 27 percent do not have photos of their property; and 28 percent do not have a back-up copy of the inventory outside the home.
- Additionally, 59 percent of people with inventories have not updated their inventories in more than a year, meaning new purchases and gifts may not be covered.
How to Make a Home Inventory
Start by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting where you bought it and its make, model and serial number. Clip to your list any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals.
- For clothing, count the items you own by category pants, coats, shoes, for example – making notes about those that are especially valuable.
- For major appliances, electronic equipment, and firearms, record their serial numbers usually found on the back or bottom.
Don’t be overwhelmed. If you are just setting up a household, starting an inventory list can be relatively simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, however, the task of creating a list can be daunting. Still, it’s better to have an incomplete inventory than nothing at all. Start with recent purchases and then try to remember what you can about older possessions.
Big Ticket Items
Valuable items like jewelry, art work and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your insurance agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately.
Take a Picture
Besides the list, you can take pictures of rooms and important individual items. On the back of the photos note what is shown, where you bought each item, and the make. Don’t forget things that are in closets or drawers.
Walk through your house or apartment videotaping and describing the contents. Or, do the same thing using a tape recorder. Remember to store your recording in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe, a safety deposit box, or online in the cloud, where it would be accessible in the case of a disaster. If you store it only on your smart phone and your smart phone is destroyed or stolen, then you would lose your recording. It is ideal to have a back up outside the home.
Use a Personal Computer
Use your PC to make your inventory list. Many common file formats such as Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access are available for free to record your home inventory as well as proprietary software. The City of Asheville Police Department has created a home inventory template spreadsheet for your convenience. Remember to store your file in a place, such as online, where it would be accessible in the case your computer was destroyed or missing.
Storing your List, Photos, and Recordings
Regardless of how you do it (written list, floppy disk, photos, videotape or audio tape), keep your inventory along with receipts in your safe deposit box or at a friend’s or relative’s home. That way you’ll be sure to have something to give your insurance representative if your home is damaged. When you make a significant purchase, add the information to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.
More on creating your inventory
You can list your items by category, or by room. For many items like books, CDs, bed sheets or pots and pans, you can make a general estimate of how many you have. For expensive items, note the make and model, the serial number, and the approximate date purchased.
10 Shortcuts for Completing Your Home Inventory in Record Time
Flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer, and you begin opening windows to freshen up your home... It's time for spring cleaning!
There are many resources and tips on how to best clean your home, but this is also a time to take advantage of creating or updating your household inventory.
What is a Household Inventory + Why do You Need One?
A home inventory could prove invaluable if you lost some or all of your belongings in a fire, burglary, or natural disaster. It is a list of all the personal belongings in your home, including when you bought each item, the original cost, and any identifying information (e.g. model or serial numbers). For a small investment of your time, you can survey your belongings and be prepared in the event of a loss.
How do You Complete a Home Inventory?
It may seem like a daunting task to itemize all your belongings, but there are some tips and shortcuts you can take to finish your household inventory in time to enjoy the nice weather (and finish the rest of your spring cleaning).
#1 - There's an App for That
If you have an iPhone or Android, there are many apps available to help you with your home inventory. Information about your belongings, adding rooms, items, and photos can be entered through the app or web-based software. Make sure your information is kept in a personal, password-protected account.
#2 - Home Inventory Worksheet
If you aren't comfortable using an app or web-based software, you can use a home inventory worksheet to create a list of your belongings. Most worksheets are broken down by room and include some suggested items to get you started. You can write down the item, manufacturer and serial number, date of purchase, and price (or estimated value).
A household inventory worksheet or checklist will help you keep track of your belongings. You can add items, cross items out if they are sold, given away, or disposed of, and it is easy to make copies so you can keep one in a safe place (such as a safety deposit box, or trusted friend/family member's home).
#3 - Go Room by Room
If it seems like you just have too many items in your home to possibly keep track of everything, start small. Choose one room at a time, or one section of your home at a time. It doesn't all need to be done at once. You can choose one room a day, or one room a week. This will make it seem less overwhelming and will allow you to get started. Before you know it, you will have a complete household inventory!
#4 - Itemize by Category
Another way you can start small is to sort your home inventory by category. Start with just one at a time, such as Entertainment. In this category, you would include TVs, DVD players, iPods/iPads, etc. If you decide to complete your worksheet by category, be sure to list how many of each item you have (e.g. TV-living room, TV-bedroom).
Again, be sure to include the manufacturer, serial number, price, and any other important information. You can also attach any applicable receipts and appraisals.
NOTE: If you have many items of jewelry or collectibles, you may want to consider scheduling them on your home or renters insurance policy to be sure you have enough coverage should a loss occur. Most policies limit the amount of reimbursement for these items when they are not scheduled on the policy, and adding them to your policy is quite inexpensive.
#5 - Use Photos + Video
Taking a video of each room in your house can make taking an inventory much easier. A complete video inventory should contain verbal descriptions of major assets as well as their value. Remember your garage, attic, basement, and the exterior of the house, as well as landscaping and fencing. Save the video along with your worksheet in a secure location and send a copy to a friend or relative for safe-keeping (or save to the cloud).
#6 - List Only Major Belongings
To get started, begin with only your major belongings. It may seem like way too much work when you think about all the little things in your home, such as the items in your closet, cabinets, and drawers. Listing your furniture and electronics first, for example, will make the process seem easier.
#7 - Keep a Copy Somewhere Else
Whether your home inventory is paper, electronic, scanned to your computer, or on video, it is important to keep a copy outside of your home. This ensures that if a disaster does occur, your household inventory is safe. If you use the app or web-based version, you will not have to worry about the information being lost due to fire, flood, or theft. For everything else, save to the cloud, keep a copy in a safe-deposit box, or share with a trusted friend or family member. Be sure that you replace your copy with an updated version on an as-needed basis.
#8 - Add as You Go
Once you finish your inventory, don't forget to add new items as needed! After you complete your initial list, keeping it current is pretty easy and takes no time at all.
#9 - Review
Every few years, look over your inventory to get rid of items you no longer own and to add new items. If you get a new appraisal for an item on your list, be sure to include it as well.
#10 - Start Today
No one plans to lose their valuables and other belongings in a burglary, fire, or natural disaster. If one of these unfortunate events destroys your home, make sure you are able to report exactly what you lost to the police, to the IRS, or to your independent insurance agent. The easiest way is to get started today! It's easier to inventory your home now than to sit down after a disaster and attempt to remember a lifetime worth of purchases.
Don't forget about important documents. These should be scanned and saved, with one kept in your home or on a secure cloud server and the original (where possible) in a safe-deposit box. Important items include, but are not limited to:
- Home: Insurance policies (home, flood, boat), deed, title, mortgage documents
- Personal: Birth certificates, medical history, passports, insurance certificates, credit card numbers, will, marriage certificate, social security card
- Automobile: Certificates of ownership, finance contracts, registrations, insurance policies, driver's licenses
- Finance: Account numbers for checking and savings accounts, CDs, stocks, bonds, other significant investments
- Tax: Copies of the first two pages of your state and federal returns for the past 5 years. Complete returns with appropriate receipts and canceled checks should be kept in a separate file box.
While it does take time to create a household inventory, it will pay off in the long run. Take advantage of the nice weather and "spring cleaning" attitude to start your home inventory today!
If you have any questions about your inventory or your insurance, please give us a call at 732-380-0900.
15 Free Printable Home Inventory Worksheets
Watching your home burn down in a fiery blaze is a downer. Getting robbed kinda sucks too. Losing one’s personal possessions doesn’t just happen to other people, it can happen to you. It happened to me about 12 years ago while still a student. I came home after an exam to find everything of value stolen. The thieves even took my dang Chia Pet – you know, the pottery that grows?
My “better half” has lost everything too. He watched his family home burn to the ground in a massive house fire. Both his belongings and family home were reduced to ash. Smoldering stuff is not sexy, delicious, or fun.
From my experience, making an insurance claim is a bit$h without knowing exactly what you own and how much you paid for it. Since stuff can be replaced in times of disaster, it just makes sense to create a home inventory listing all of your possessions.
The Printable Home Inventory Worksheet will help you to:
- List all your personal possessions in one convenient place.
- Organize your belongings room-by-room.
- Catalog, document, photograph, and describe valuable serial numbers, models, and receipts.
- Prove ownership of items if an insurance claim is required.
- Jar your memory when all seems lost.
- Strengthen and establish an insurance claim in case of fire, robbery, or a natural disaster.
- Determine how much insurance coverage is needed.
- Get enough coverage by totaling the cost of all your stuff.
1. How to make a home inventory.
There are several ways to create a home inventory. Pick the method you are most likely to embrace and update.
Notebook with photos.
Get a notebook. Make a section for each room in your house or apartment. Go through each room and document everything. Take photographs. Download the 15 Free Printable Home Inventory Worksheets (PDF) to help. These sheets are blank so just fill in the details! Don’t forget to list serial numbers, manufacturers, models, and price paid. Attach receipts. Using a spreadsheet and then attaching photos is also helpful.
Make a video.
You don’t have to be from the MTV generation to know the value of video. Creating a mini movie with a room-by-room playback is very valuable when making an insurance claim. Walk through each room and record your stuff. Be sure to shoot serial numbers and add commentary by reading out model numbers. Collect all receipts and store with the tape. Dubbing in your favorite theme music is totally up to you.
Use home inventory software.
Do the digital thing by finding free home inventory software (freeware) or by buying a trusted brand. Use home inventory software to document your stuff by room, upload photos, and make digital copies of receipts.
2. Reasons to store your home inventory off site.
Do not keep your home inventory at home. What use is a home inventory if it burns in a house blaze or gets whisked away in a whirling twister? None at all. So be sure to keep your notebook, video, or digital back up on CD and place it in a safe deposit box.
3. Should renters have a home inventory? Students?
YES! When I was a student renting a little apartment, I would have benefited greatly from having a simple catalog of all my stuff. When the time came to make a claim, I had no idea how many CDs I owned, or the worth of my wardrobe.
4. Update and repeat!
Be sure to update your inventory with each big purchase. Don’t let it get out of date.
A home inventory is a very valuable tool in times of theft or natural disaster. A listing of all your stuff can really help when dealing with the unpleasant task of making an insurance claim. I must admit, I never claimed my Chia Pet.
Other home checklists you may like:
Make your Free
Home Inventory Worksheet
A Home Inventory Worksheet can be a great way to sort out what you own if you're in the market for homeowner's insurance, or if you're simply looking to free up some space in the house. No matter what you plan on doing with your property it helps to know what you've actually got, a Home Inventory Worksheet can help you get organized and get started.
Use the Home Inventory Worksheet document if:
- You want to make the most of your homeowners or renters insurance.
- You're applying for new insurance.
- You're going through a divorce.
A Home Inventory Worksheet is your tool for creating a list of the items you own. It can help to document what you own and what it's worth, after all, you want to make sure you're fairly compensated if you have to file an insurance claim. Be it burglary, fire, or flooding - it's best to be prepared and know with certainty what's accounted for and what isn't. A Home Inventory Worksheet can also aid in the divorce process. It's important that joint assets are fairly split and knowing what's there is integral to sorting that out. It's easy to forget things: the fine tableware that's only brought out for the holidays, the instruments your kids abandoned after one semester of band class. A Home Inventory Worksheet helps you make sure everything's accounted for.
Other names for this document: Home Inventory List