You've had a fire and many of your possessions have been singed to a crisp. It's time to file that homeowner's claim, but can you remember everything that was destroyed?
This is a regular problem for homeowners when they file claims. They just can't recall everything that was lost, let alone how much the items cost. Without that information it will be hard to make your claim and be reimbursed for your loss.
To make sure you don't find yourself in this predicament, one of the smartest things you can do is create a home inventory. But do you know how to put one together? And where to start?
To get started, the first thing you should do is go through your policy with your agent. You should try to ascertain:
- If your possessions are covered for their replacement value or actual cash value.
- If you have unique items that may need special endorsements to your policy.
- If your recreational items (skis, bikes, golf clubs) are covered.
- Take pictures of your home
Start with the outside from different angles, as well as any outdoor structures, decks, patio furniture, decorations and landscaping.
Then move inside and photograph each room from enough angles to cover all of the furniture and items. Since it costs nothing to take photos these days with your phone, snap away. The more shots the better.
- Go through every drawer and closet
Go through your drawers and list all items that would need to be replaced. For each item you should document when you purchased or received it. Where you got it from and how much it cost. If you have receipts, that's even better. If you don't keep receipts of your big ticket items, you should.
Scan receipts to keep with your home inventory. Keep the receipts of new household purchases in a special folder, so you can update your inventory once a year.
After going through your drawers, move to the closets. Take pictures and separate items that have a value of more than $300, and take photos.
Take photos of each electronic item (TVs, mobile phones, stereos, computers, tablets). Make sure that you also photograph the model and serial number of each item.
- Fine china, crystal
If you have nice dinnerware in your home, you should take a picture of each item front and back so that the logo is showing. Also take pics of any crystal glasses or decorative items you own. Take a picture of where you store these items.
In your garage you likely store power tools, hardware, garden equipment, sports equipment, bikes and more. Take pics and document it all.
- Special items and things with sentimental value
Do you keep any collections of valuable items? If so, you should make sure that it's all documented and you have photos.
Also, if you have special photo albums and family heirlooms, make sure you document those too.
And finally, don't forget to include any luxury or rare items that you have at home.
We've prepared a home inventory checklist in excel format that you can download and use to keep track of all of your possessions. Click here to download the Home Inventory Checklist!