How to do a Home or Apartment Inventory for Your Insurance Policy

Category: Personal Insurance

Imagine losing your home and your possessions, it is not a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Unfortunately, for thousands of families across the United States each year, they don’t have to imagine it because they have lived through it.

Ask any one of them and they will tell you that what makes the experience even worse is sitting down and staring at a claims form, racking their brain trying to remember everything they just lost.

It is very important for your peace of mind, as well as your pocketbook, to have an up to date inventory of your apartment or household possessions in the event of a fire, natural disaster, or burglary.

Statistics show that the majority of us do not have up to date records or inventories of our possessions, putting us at a major disadvantage when it comes to trying to settle claims regarding the loss of personal property. Apartment or Home inventories serve a couple of helpful purposes.

First and foremost, an inventory is a record of your possessions and can be used if you need to file a claim. Second, creating the inventory can help assess if you have enough homeowners/renters and personal property coverage in place and identify gaps that may exist for valuables that aren’t covered under your standard policy.

What do you Document in an Inventory?

Document everything you own from clothing to furniture to appliances, power tools, jewelry and electronics. Include the following information for each item:

  • Description of the item
  • Manufacturer/make/model
  • Identification numbers such as serial numbers
  • Price paid and date purchased

You should also take a photograph of the item and retain the receipt.

How Do You Do an Inventory?

There are several approaches for completing your inventory; from low-tech to high-tech. Choose whichever one works best for you.

  • Manual Inventory

Document your belongings in a notebook or spreadsheet. There are downloadable PDFs and worksheet templates available online. Make sure to take photos and save the images along with the list.

  • Videotaped Inventory

Make a video. Walk through each room and shoot everything. Get shots of the serial numbers and include that information on the audio portion of the recording as well.

  • Inventory Software

There are both paid and free versions of inventory software available. Inventory software can make it easy to input and update information about your possessions. The software can also provide tips, guidance and reminders to help make sure you have covered everything.

Check out inventory software options for apartment or home inventory purposes.

  • Inventory App

Using an app for your smartphone can be a convenient way to document your possessions, especially when it comes to keeping your inventory up to date. Just make sure that you upload your inventory to the cloud, or download a PDF to send to your insurance agent and/or print it and keep it in a safe location.

One inventory app option available from the Insurance Information Institute (III) is called the Know Your Stuff Home Inventory. You can download the Android version here, or the Apple version here.

After Your Inventory is Complete

Make sure that no matter which method you use to complete your inventory you store it or a back-up copy in a safe location such as a safety deposit box.

Keep your inventory up to date. Update your home inventory after the major gift giving holidays. Just like your annual physical and changing the batteries in the smoke detectors, set a date at least once a year to make sure your inventory stays current.

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