How to Create a Home Inventory

November 11, 2011

Creating a detailed home inventory is time consuming, but it will save you a lot of grief should disaster strike.

Imagine your home is destroyed by a fire or robbed while you’re away on vacation—could you remember the details of your possessions? Would you be able to recall everything that was lost?

Not many of us can describe the exact brand and model of our TV or the cost of that camera we bought last Christmas. Yet, these are the details you will need on hand if you need to make a claim on your homeowners insurance policy.

What is a home inventory?

A home inventory is basically a record of everything you own—from your laptop to the shoes on your feet.

A complete home inventory contains a listing of all your possessions including relevant facts, videos and/or photos of your home and possessions, receipts for your most valuable objects, and current appraisals of your home and other high-value possessions.

By documenting everything you own, you can provide your insurance company with a detailed account of what was lost so you’re sure to receive compensation for everything your policy covers.

Plus, a home inventory can help you determine whether or not you have purchased enough home insurance to cover all your belongings.

What you’ll need to create a home inventory

It’s easy to get started. All you really need is a pen and paper. But keep in mind, it’s much easier to create your home inventory on a computer with some kind of spreadsheet program. There are even home inventory templates available that can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend making your list.

Also, we recommend making a visual record of your possessions in addition to a detailed list to help speed up the claims process. A video camera or still camera will work perfectly. Just don’t forget to add them to your list too!

One room at a time

Creating a home inventory can seem daunting at first, especially if you own a lot of stuff.

To make the whole process feel less intimidating, take the time to record your belongings one room at a time. This way, you can create a home inventory over the course of a week, a month, or even several months—whatever your schedule allows. The important thing is that you get it done.

Record your high-value items first like jewelry, silverware, artwork, and antiques. Then move on to furniture, electronics, and other large items. Once you have all the easy-to-see items listed, start opening drawers and closets and write down everything you find inside that you would want to replace should they be lost or stolen.

What details should I include in my home inventory?

  • Makes and models
  • Serial numbers
  • Years purchased
  • Original costs

Now that you have a detailed list put together, get out your camera and take videos and/or pictures of the room. Also, gather any receipts you have for your big-ticket items. You now have a detailed home inventory for that room.

Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back and move on to the next room until you have everything listed and recorded.

This process may take awhile, but it’s well worth it.

Where should I store my home inventory?

Creating a detailed home inventory is pointless if it’s destroyed or stolen along with your other possessions. Make sure you store physical copies of your home inventory outside of the home or in a fireproof safe that’s bolted to the floor.

If you have digital copies of your home inventory, you may want to consider saving them to the cloud. That way, you can access them at any time from any computer.

Be sure to keep your home inventory up-to-date. As your list of possessions grows and changes, you may need to consider a new home insurance policy.

Check with your home insurance agent to make sure your homeowners policy is right for you, and keep that home inventory safe—you never know when you may need it.




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