Updated January 9, 2023
Would you be able to remember all the possessions you have if they were destroyed by a fire or other disaster? Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return, and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.
Start by making a list of your possessions, describing each item and noting where you bought it, its make, and model. Add any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals you have. For clothing, count the items you own by category (pants, coats, shoes, for example), making notes about especially valuable articles. For major appliances and electronic equipment, record the serial numbers.
- Don’t be put off! If you’re setting up a new household, starting an inventory list can be relatively simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, the task of creating a list can be daunting. Start with recent purchases, and then try to remember what you can about older possessions.
- Big ticket items. Valuable items like jewelry, artwork and collectibles may have increased in value since you received them. Check with your agent to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. Be sure to insure valuable items separately before there is a loss.
- Take a picture. You can also take pictures of rooms and important individual items to have a visual record of your belongings. Note what is shown and where you bought it or the make. Don’t forget things that are in closets or drawers.
- Videotape it. Walk through your residence videotaping or tape recording to describe the contents. This can be useful for items such as clothing or kitchenware. You can simply open a kitchen shelf or closet and describe the contents. For instance, in the kitchen, it would be sufficient to state that you have a set of dishes for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, etc., and when and where it was purchased.
- Create a digital record. Use your computer or mobile device to make your inventory list, which can help you create a room-by-room record of your belongings.
Home Inventory Apps
Mobile apps make it easier than ever to log and insure your personal belongings in case of loss. Here are a couple examples of apps available to you with key features. Disclaimer: these are not official endorsements, just examples of apps currently available.
- Available in the iTunes Store and Google Play Store
- Easy to use interface where you can sort by property, rooms, items, and item descriptions
- No limit to items saved
- You can create and export PDF and Excel reports
- Save photos and videos within the app
- Cost: Free
Stuffanizer: Home Inventory Manager
- Available in iTunes Store
- Create locations
- Tag objects individually and add descriptions
- Take photos and export information in a PDF form
- Cost: $2.99
Magic Home Inventory
- Available in Google Play Store
- Easy to navigate interface
- Organize in a hierarchy: property, room, item, and item description
- Take photos and organize with a sunburst chart to give an overview of all your items
- Import and export to transfer inventory
- Cost: Free
STORING YOUR LIST
Regardless of how you do it (written list, photos, computer hard drive, flash-drive, or in the cloud), keep a record of your inventory. If it is a physical document, store it along with the receipts in your safe deposit box or at a friend’s or relative’s home. If it is a digital file, make sure to keep a copy on an external drive or online storage account. In case of home damage, a digital file ensures easy access for your insurance representative. Add information about new purchases to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.