Creating a Home Inventory

Carolyn Konecki, Personal Lines Manager
The purpose of a home inventory is to document all of your personal possessions and to show proof of ownership in the event of a loss.

Most homeowners mistakenly think that they must create an itemized written list, complete with receipts. Viewing that as an overly tedious task, it never gets done. A better, faster and easier option is to take a photo or video inventory. Here are a few tips to create an accurate home inventory:

  1. Document everything  
    The purpose of the inventory is to itemize every personal possession you own, not to present your home as if it was going to be featured in a magazine. That means you must methodically photograph or videotape every wall, ceiling and floor of each room, including bathrooms, closets and the garage. If you are videotaping, comment on the items you are photographing – when you got it, where you got it and how much you paid for it. Date the inventory list, so that if you reference an item you bought “two years ago for $2,000” you know what year that was.
  2. Show the inside of every drawer, cabinet and closet
    Open every drawer and document the contents. Open every cabinet and photograph or videotape each shelf so that the contents can be easily seen. Open every closet and get the hanging and folded clothes as wells the hats, shoes and items stored on the shelves.
  3. Don’t forget the garage (or attic, basement or crawlspace)          
    People store a lot of wealth in their garages including tools, sporting equipment, holiday décor, etc. Make sure that all shelves, walls, ceiling and floors are photographed or videotaped. If you have any storage bins or boxes, photograph and document the interior of each one. You may not choose to replace those items if there is a loss, but you will be reimbursed for them.
  4. Scan or photograph receipts
    If you have receipts for anything – flooring, furnishings, appliances, dishware, clothing, art, jewelry, etc., scan or photograph the receipts and add them to your home inventory. Receipts are not required, except for scheduled valuable items (like expensive jewelry), but they assist with reimbursement from your insurance company in the event of a loss.
  5. Don’t overlook the small stuff…it all adds up!
    Homeowners who have lost a home to fire are often astounded at the dollar value of the “little things”. Whether it’s pet supplies, cleaning products, socks or food in the pantry, the insurance company will reimburse you for every item lost because of a covered peril, but only if you can show proof that you owned it. So, photograph all the small items, because they add up when you have to buy them all again.
  6. Store your inventory away from the premises.
    A home inventory is no good if it is destroyed by water or fire. Make a few copies and store then in the cloud and/or with a friend or relative who lives out of the area.

If you still prefer not to do it yourself, there are companies that will come to your home and do it for you. The price varies based on the level of detail you want.