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Are you able to remember everything in your home in the event that it becomes lost, destroyed, or damaged? Do you know the true value of all that you own, and can you prove the worth of all your high-value items? If the answer to either of these questions is no, now is the time to start drafting a home inventory.
A home inventory is an all-inclusive list of your personal possessions, including those items that you’ve decided to keep offsite. It also lists the worth of each item. This list can prove invaluable when determining how much coverage to bind, deciding how to distribute your assets after death, and filing an insurance claim. It can also be essential when filing taxes, especially when you need to itemize your losses.
Why You Should Document Every Valuable in Your Home
When binding homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, you’ll need to refer to this list when determining your coverage limits. If you have a lot of valuables such as collected antiques or one-of-a-kind works of art, you may even need to purchase special, additional insurance to make sure that these things are protected. Having a comprehensive list of all that you own along with the individual and cumulative values for everything will help you and your insurance agent accurately determine your coverage needs.
In the event that your home ever experiences a flood, a fire, or any other disaster, you will have already documented your valuables. You certainly don’t want to have to stammer through your conversations with insurance adjusters while listing dubious details and last-minute appraisals. This same is also true when working with a tax attorney, CPA, or a certified tax professional. You can easily itemize your losses following any disaster event by simply referring to this document and the listed descriptions and values.
How to Put Together a Home Inventory
Creating a home inventory is actually fairly easy. Simply break the task down into small, manageable sections. For instance, you may decide to make your list by going from room to room, or even from cabinet to cabinet. You can also list your most recent purchases while gradually working your way back to your very oldest. No matter which method you choose, pick a strategy and then stick with it. Write down:
- The name and a description of each item you own
- Product brand and model numbers
- Serial numbers
- Original price
- Any special features or upgrades
If you’ve retained receipts or other proof of purchase documents, attach them to your list.
How to Organize Your List
There are several ways to organize your home inventory. You can break your list down into categories according to product type. Alternatively, you can list everything in ascending or descending order according to its price. Keeping your big ticket items in a separate category of their own will make your list handier when purchasing insurance or calculating losses for tax purposes.
Start by creating a column for the name and description of each product. Then, create separate columns for listing the:
- Item price
- Serial number
- Date of purchase
- Assessed condition
- Accessories, enhancements, or upgrades
You can add additional columns for any other details you deem relevant. You can also add a “Special Notes” section for adding in miscellaneous information that may prove helpful when filing a claim or doing your taxes.
Tips When Taking Photos
Taking photos of the items on your home inventory is necessary for proving that they exist, and that they’re in a sufficiently acceptable condition for justifying their value. For each item take:
- A full shot of the product from all sides
- A picture of the serial number
- A photo of any branding images and the model number
Use a high-quality camera and verify that each shot is sufficiently clear.
Where to Keep Your Inventory
To keep your list protected and available for these conversations, make sure to keep a copy in a fireproof and waterproof safe, and a digital copy saved on the cloud. This same is also true for all photos that you have taken. Having both physical and digital images will ensure that this information is still accessible even if your living space is utterly destroyed.
How to Utilize Your Home Inventory When Filing a Claim
When filing a claim, be sure to let your insurance adjuster know that you have a comprehensive home inventory available. Sharing this document with adjusters along with the included photos can help expedite the claims process. Be sure to always retain a copy of all pages and images for your records. Then, provide your adjuster with all relevant photos. If only some of your items when damaged during the claim event in question, highlight these items on the adjuster’s copy and update your remaining inventory accordingly.
If you have any questions or want more information on how to create a home inventory, please contact an IMA Select representative in your area.
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