A home inventory is a crucial tool to prepare you and your family for storm season and other emergencies. By assessing what you have in your home, you can feel confident when it comes time to report what you’ve lost. To get you started, we’ve put together why a home inventory is so important and some tips on how to make one that works best for you.

What is a home inventory?

A home inventory is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a comprehensive list of your personal property at your residence.

For many homeowners, this is recommended by your insurance company and is especially helpful in the event of a claim.

Why do I need a home inventory? creating-a-home-inventory

Should a loss occur, your insurance company will ask you to produce a detailed inventory of all damaged or stolen property. By preparing a home inventory ahead of time, your claim representative can start analyzing your losses sooner.

Without one you’ll be left to try and remember what items are missing or damaged and the original cost of the item. Those are difficult things to remember without some sort of record!

A prepared home inventory can also save you a ton of time and some stress when it comes time to report what you’ve lost.

Read more: How to Select the Best Homeowners Insurance Coverage

What should I include in my home inventory? 

Everything! Your home inventory list should include any personal property that you want to ensure is documented in the event of a loss. And we’re not just talking about the big or expensive items such as televisions, appliances and furniture, but also the dishes, bedding, clothing, or the fancy lamp your grandmother passed down to you.

First, ask your insurance agent or, if you didn’t work with an insurance agent, your home insurance company to see what information they may require.

When you create your home inventory, you should include more than just a description or video of the item. Consider including these pieces of information in your home inventory: what-to-include-in-a-home-inventory

  • Item description including the brand name, model and serial number, if available
  • What room it’s located in
  • Original cost of the item
  • Year you purchased the item
  • Quantity
  • Where the items were purchased

How do I make a home inventory?

There are many ways you can approach making a home inventory.

Once you know what’s required, you can choose the method for capturing the information that’s best for you.

Some insurance companies may provide a spreadsheet or list you can fill out. Or, you can make your own with one of these methods:

  • Create a spreadsheet
  • Use a credible and secure app
  • Record a video walkthrough of your house and belongings
  • Put receipts from your personal property purchases into a folder alongside a detailed list

Read more: 7 Things Nobody Tells You About Homeowners Insurance

Update your home inventory annually

Once you create your home inventory, don’t forget to set a reminder on your calendar to update it at least yearly. A good time to consider updating it is after the holidays. You may have larger gifts you’d like to add to the inventory, along with any other items you’ve acquired over the year. If you find yourself adding high-value items, it may be a good time to consider a separate policy for those items.

This is also a good time to consider reaching out to your insurance agent if you made any significant improvements to your home over the year and to review your limits on personal property compared to your updated inventory.

Read more: You Need to Tell Your Insurance Agent About Your Home Improvement Projects, Here’s Why

Store your home inventory securely

Also, almost as important as creating the inventory is finding a safe and accessible place to store it. If you opt for a video or other digital format, save it somewhere secure that you and other family members know how to access.

If you’re creating a physical/paper inventory, a firesafe lockbox is a great place to store it. You may also want to consider storing a copy of your inventory somewhere besides your home (like a relative’s house) in case your copy is damaged.

Creating a home inventory is worth the effort and can save you and your family a lot of time and stress down the road. If you have questions about creating your home inventory, reach out to your local, independent agent or, if you don’t work with an insurance agent, your insurance company.

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Disclaimer: This article is not expert advice. The analysis of coverage is in general terms and is superseded in all respects by the Insuring Agreements, Endorsements, Exclusions, Terms and Conditions of the Policy. Some of the coverage mentioned in this material may not be applicable in all states or may have to be modified to conform to applicable state law. Some coverages may have been eliminated or modified since the publishing of this material. Discounts may not be available in all states. Limitations and conditions may apply. Premiums will be based on benefits chosen. Please check with your local Independent Auto-Owners Insurance Agent for details.