“A stitch in time saves nine” is a wise saying that is particularly applicable to the insurance industry. When it comes to creating a home inventory before it is needed, this is especially true. How many of us can remember how many dishes, cups, books or chairs we have without going into the rooms and counting them? How many of us could remember the make, model and cost of all home appliances, computers, printers, stereos and speakers (yes, some still have these), and exercise equipment?
As unwelcome as this task is, it would be even more difficult if we tried to create the list after a disaster. Afterward we would need to rely on memory, personal photos and consumer account purchases, and photos taken by friends and family that depict the home’s interior. It might mean that we are unable to file claims for fully all our belongings.
Creating an inventory can seem overwhelming at first but there are easy ways to get started: Use an app to itemize belongings. Take video or still pictures in every room. Start a file to save receipts for new purchases of home inventory items and pull out any available receipts for previously purchased items. Download a checklist of possible items—many are available online. Once you have started it is easier to fine tune your inventory with more details.
Here are some resources:
- United Policyholders offers a Home Inventory spreadsheet that contains suggested items. You can customize the spreadsheet for items that are in your home.
- How to create a home inventory from the Insurance Information Institute
Remember to keep a copy of your inventory in a safe place away from the home that will be accessible after a disaster. For security reasons it’s best not to include personally identifying information on the list. However, for convenience—and after confirming that the list is in a secure place—you may want to include your insurance company’s name, claims phone number and your policy number with the list.
Once you have completed the inventory and saved it, be sure to update it periodically to keep it current.
You will thank yourself if this is ever needed. While you are dealing with claims, finding a place to live, and all the other physical and emotional issues that occur after a disaster, this is one task that you will be grateful has already been completed.
Along with creating a home inventory, emergency kit, evacuation plan and other pre-disaster items, read your insurance policy to be familiar with its coverage and check that your home’s replacement cost coverage is sufficient to rebuild your current home.
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