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How To Do a Home Inventory For Insurance

How To Do a Home Inventory For Insurance

Do you think you could name every item in your junk drawer? Probably not.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of stuff in your home you may not remember — especially after a major event like a fire.

While you may not care about your junk drawer, it’s important to be able to list your home’s contents so you can get reimbursed from your home insurance or renters insurance company in the event your property is lost or damaged.

Although it may seem like overkill to list out everything you own, once you get started, doing a home inventory for insurance is not that hard.

Continue reading to learn:

  • Why It’s Important To Do a Home Inventory
  • What To Include on a Home Inventory
  • How To Do a Home Inventory
  • Where To Store Your Home Inventory
  • Final Thoughts: Guide — How To Do a Home Inventory for Insurance

Why It’s Important To Do a Home Inventory

The main reason it’s important to have a complete inventory of your home is in case you lose property in a situation covered by your insurance.

Covered perils.

To make sure you’re getting reimbursed the correct amount, you’ll need to provide a list of everything that was lost — with as much detail as possible — to complete your insurance claim with your insurance agent.

That can be the last task you want to do while you’re dealing with all the repercussions of an already hectic situation like a robbery or natural disaster. Plus, recording details like serial numbers and brands is nearly impossible after the fact.

Secondary to filing a claim with your insurance, having an accurate and complete home inventory helps you file losses on your tax returns so you can get the refund you deserve.

Even if you never lose any of your property, doing a complete home inventory ahead of time ensures your personal property insurance coverage is enough.

What To Include on a Home Inventory

Do you need to include absolutely everything on your home inventory? Only the things that you ever want to keep.

We also suggest recording anything with any value.

Although each book on your shelf may only hold a few dollars of value, collectively, they account for a larger sum than you’d think. You might be surprised about how things add up, so it’s better to include as much as you can.  

infographic showing how much items in your home are worth.
Sources: Statista, ForRent, Credit Donkey, Circle Furniture, Cnet

Items to Record

The bottom line is that you should catalog everything, not just the most important stuff or recent purchases. That means things that may sound tedious to record, like small decor items or the exact number of jeans you own.

If there are also important things like an antique clock you inherited, one-of-a-kind decor, collectibles, or designer clothing, make sure to get as much detail of those items as you can.

Locations to Cover

Don’t stop at your usual living areas. Include the items in your closets, garage, attic, outbuildings, and storage sheds, too. If it’s on your property, there’s a good chance you should include it. In some cases, even storage units outside of our property count.

Information to Include

The more information about the item, the better your insurance company can accurately assess your losses — which means more money for you.

Here’s what to record:

  • Description of the item
  • Brand/serial/model number
  • Cost, appraisals, or actual cash value
  • Date of purchase
  • Receipts
  • Photos

It's best to have as much of this information as possible for every individual item in your house.

For example, when listing your bathroom items, you'd include "Dyson Supersonic hair dryer - $430 - purchased in January 2022" along with a receipt and photo. You'd also add your cloud shower curtain from Urban Outfitters ($40), the soap you use in the shower ($9.99), and the contents of your skincare fridge with the same level of detail. If you suffer a covered loss, this helps the adjuster determine the value of your claim – so including every single item in detail only helps you.

How To Do a Home Inventory

Now you know what your home inventory should include — but where do you start?

Here are a few tips:

Break It Down by Room

Make your task easier by checking each room off your list one by one.  Create a system to make sure you don’t miss anything. For example, start in one corner and rotate until you catalog everything on the walls, in the room, and inside furniture. If you're short on time, the best place to start is by taking a video.

Group Like-Items Together

Another method you may choose to do in addition to moving room-by-room is group similar things together. If you have many baseball caps, you can simply list the total number rather than creating a separate line item for each one.

Ensure Your Most Expensive Items Are Well-Documented

You probably won’t have receipts and dates of purchase for every coffee mug or side table. But you probably already know which are the big-ticket items, so take the extra steps needed to get as much information as you can on these items.

Double-Check That You Have Enough Coverage

With your detailed list complete, you’ll have an estimate of home much everything in your home is worth. If that number is higher than your personal property coverage limits, it’s time to increase the coverage on your insurance policy.

Recheck when you make new purchases and bring in more valuable items.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average insurance claim comes out to $13,424, and the most common cause of damage is wind and hail.

Chart on the average cause, frequency, and severity of insurance claims.

Where To Store Your Home Inventory

For safekeeping, it’s a good idea to keep multiple copies of your home inventory. You may want to keep your home inventory in:

  • Physical lists: It’s not a bad idea to keep a physical paper inventory, but if you do, store it in a place it can’t be damaged. A fireproof or waterproof safe can protect this and other important documents.  Consider getting a safe deposit box to keep your records out of your home or apartment if you don’t have one.
  • Digital documents: Whether a spreadsheet or a digital scan, having a copy saved to a secure location like a backup hard drive or the cloud can help preserve your digital home inventory list no matter the scenario.
  • Photos and videos: Visual documentation can also be helpful to determine the condition and type of every item in your home. If you take photos and videos, make sure to upload secure copies to a drive so they don’t solely exist on your phone.
  • Apps: To make the process even easier, download a home inventory app that walks you through the process and stores your information securely in their database.

Final Thoughts: Guide — How To Do a Home Inventory for Insurance

Having a home inventory for insurance is critical should you ever need to prove your losses and make sure you have enough insurance coverage.

Record every item’s description, price, and purchase date. To make it easier, work room by room and group like objects until you’re done.

Once your inventory is done, you’re ready to get insurance for your stuff! Contact Goodcover to get a quote on affordable renters insurance.

Note: This post is meant for informational purposes, insurance regulation and coverage specifics vary by location and person. Check your policy for exact coverage information.

For additional questions, reach out to us – we’re happy to help.

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