Homeowner Safety: How to Create a Home Inventory

By Jameson Doris 

When moving into a new home, one of the most important things you should do is create a home inventory. In the event that somewhere down the road your valuables are lost or stolen, having visual evidence of your property is the best way for insurance adjusters to determine what they're worth. Unfortunately, many people skip this task.

"Very often, homeowners learn of the importance of a home inventory after a loss," Scott Congiusti, assistant vice president and personal insurance claims director at HUB International Northeast, tells insuranceQuotes.

With all the technology we have today, you shouldn't feel like this is a monumental job. Creating a home inventory can be as simple as walking around your new property and filming your valuables with a smartphone. Also, there are several helpful apps that you can use to document and categorize your valuables. 

Here are five tips to keep in mind when creating your home inventory:

Don't get overwhelmed.

A decade ago, you would've had to use expensive camera equipment in order to create a home inventory, but that's no longer the case. Most cellphones today have video capacity, so creating an inventory is as simple as hitting record and walking around your house.

"This does not have to be beautiful, perfectly lit or even that lengthy," says Jason Hargraves, managing editor at insuranceQuotes.com. "Remember, you're taking an inventory, not making a documentary."

Know what qualifies as a "valuable."

When creating an inventory, most people understand that things like jewelry and laptops need to be documented, but there are other items around your home that you might not immediately think of as a "valuable." Even if they're older, be sure to film all your furniture and electronics, as well as smaller personal items that may be in closets or drawers. The cost of those will add up if an insurance adjuster is trying to determine what you should be compensated for in the event of a fire.

Use an app.

Encircle, Belongings and Stuffanizer are just a few of the more popular inventory apps available right now. They all come with their own set of features and levels of usability, so take a look at some reviews and find out which is right for you. Keeping your home inventory stored on a drive in your home is the last thing you'd want in the event of a disaster. You should always back your home inventory up on a cloud service, but apps also have the benefit of allowing you to access your inventory from anywhere by logging into a phone that has the app downloaded onto it.

"They say there's an app for just about everything, and that goes for taking a home inventory, as well," says Hargraves. "If an app is the route you want to go, just pick one that you'll be most comfortable using. Even the most basic app should suffice for a home inventory."

Get a rider for expensive items.

When dealing with things like jewelry, rare antiques and high-end art, you should first have an insurance rider, which is additional coverage offered at an extra cost for your homeowner's policy. For items that are worth thousands of dollars, you should still shoot a video from as many angles as possible, but you can't rely on the inventory alone. Hargraves suggests taking photos or videos of any appraisals related to these items and documenting them digitally, as well.

Don't fret too much over your wardrobe.

Of course, if you have expensive dresses or suits, be sure to film these and take the time to point out the labels, but it's not worth it to sit and document every piece of clothing you own. Take a simple video of what's inside your closet so an insurance adjuster will have an idea of the amount of clothes and shoes you own. 

"If you have replacement insurance instead of actual cash value, you might want to take care to document any super high-end items," says Hargraves. "However, if your wardrobe is full of the latest couture, you might want to consider a policy rider."

With a home inventory, you're preparing for worst-case scenarios. Most people don't like to even think about their new home being involved in a disaster, so folks will often push it out of their mind and never create a home inventory. However, if you follow the tips above and create a simple account of your valuables, you'll be prepared to present your inventory to an insurance adjuster should it ever be necessary.

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