Every home needs a home inventory updated at least once a year. Homeowners who live in hurricane-stricken areas like Florida, coastal regions of Alabama or Louisiana and Texas are used to putting together a home inventory on a regular basis, but for those homeowners who live in the Midwest or in regions of the country without hurricane season abounding, they may think there is no need for a home inventory. This just is not the case!
No matter what part of the country you live in, a home inventory is a must-have because fire, flood, and wind or tornado damage, as well as theft or lost property, can happen to anyone at any time. Not having your home inventoried can make the process of dealing with insurance agents an absolute nightmare, especially if you are trying to visualize from memory everything that was lost, damaged, or stolen in your home while speaking to an insurance agent on the phone. The best bet for making sure your household goods are replaced to the fullest extent, is to keep some type of home inventory to help better replace these items.
There are several ways to inventory the belongings in a home. Of course one of the easiest ways to inventory items is to get a notebook and pen and walk from room to room writing down anything that would or should be replaced in case of damage or loss. Inventorying items this way can be time-consuming, but allows for everything in the room to be examined and approximate values to be determined, which should be included on an inventory list. The next step up from pen and paper would be to write the home inventory on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or simply in a Microsoft Word file.
If the means are available for more hi-tech versions of inventorying home items, this is probably the best option. Simply turn the date and time stamp on the 35 mm or digital camera and go from room to room taking pictures of each room, labeling the pictures with item information once the pictures have been developed.
Many homeowners also use video cameras to go around the house recording what each room looks like at a certain time and date. This is a great way to get a live-action shot of what the material items look like at present and can easily be handed over to an insurance company.
A few tips to keep in mind when creating an inventory are to always keep receipts for major purchases and store these with the home inventory. The more you can estimate for the Homeowners’ insurance company the price and date an item was paid for, the more likely a price near that cost will be given back for repayment. If possible, it is also best to write down where the item was purchased at, the model number, and the manufacturer’s name.
As well, it is important to always note the date and time on the inventory, and this is why using a still or video camera is a great idea. Although the Homeowners’ insurance company is supposed to be on the side of the insured, they will be estimating costs at a minimum to save themselves money. So be smart about a home inventory, so that items will be replaced at full cost and in a timely manner.
Remember that it is not necessary to inventory items that would not be missed if they are lost or damaged, such as a paperback novel or a $10 pair of flip-flops, but if you are a book collector who has an extensive collection of antique books or a shoe collector who has hundreds of dollars worth of shoes, be sure to inventory these items.
Of course, large items like furniture, artwork, appliances, electronics, large sports equipment, and large outdoor equipment should absolutely be inventoried. It is probably wise to also inventory or at least photograph clothes, home interior accessories, tool sets, kitchenware, and even workout equipment, but the major rule of thumb is to know the value of your own personal property to determine if it is worth adding to a home inventory list.
After the home inventory is created it should be placed somewhere other than the home. This could be stored at a family member or neighbor’s home, although the safest place for a home inventory list is in a safe deposit box or a fire and flood-proof security box.