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Do you really know what you have in your house? Tips for creating a home inventory

May 12 2016

Wayne Texeira  Marketing Director, CFMP, AINS, AIS, API

The other day I was talking with a friend about some fall cleaning that she was doing around her house. She was telling me how she found a bunch things in boxes and closets that she had completely forgot about. It’s always fun to rediscover…sort of like shopping without spending money.

Of course, my insurance brain kicked in, and I asked her if she had done a home inventory in case she had a fire. “No…when do I have time to do that?”, she said. Being an insurance person, it’s sort of an occupational hazard that I look at life through a lens of potential risks and “what if” scenarios. In all honesty, it’s been about 5 years since I’ve updated my own home inventory, and I need to get it done because I know that I couldn’t name everything I own from memory.

Given our busy lives and how much stuff we all have, it can seem like an impossible task to put together an inventory of everything. But, doing so helps you can make sure that you’ve got enough insurance to cover your personal property, and if you experience a loss, you’ll be able to settle a claim quicker and be more likely to get reimbursed for what you have.

The easiest way to start is by going through each room in your house, one at a time, making a list of items as you go. Don’t try to do it all in one day. That’s a sure fire way to get overwhelmed and give up before you get started. Break the project down over several days or weeks into manageable chunks.

A few quick ideas to help you create your inventory:

  • Take pictures with a time stamp on the image. On the back of the image, list the value, serial number, make and model number. If you’re storing it electronically, name the pictures and reference the description.
  • Take a video camera through your home and verbally describing all the items in your home.
  • If you have an iPhone® download a free app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, myHOME Scr.APP.book app. It guides you through capturing images, writing descriptions, saving bar codes and serial numbers, and stores them all electronically.
  • Download a home inventory spreadsheet at dfmurphy.com/homeinventory. A simple format for getting organized plus other tips on getting your inventory done.

As you go through your house, take note of any high value items that may need to be “scheduled” on your home insurance such as expensive jewelry, antiques, fine arts and collectibles, and contact your agent to discuss getting them listed.

So, as I tackle my own home inventory update, I hope you’ll join me it doing your own.  Don’t put off getting started on your inventory. It’s easy to procrastinate, but just think of how good you’ll feel when it’s done!

P.S. Don’t store the only copy of your inventory in your home. If there is a fire, you don’t want your inventory destroyed along with your stuff. Make a copy and give it to a family member, friend or put it in a safe deposit box.

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