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Easy Ways to Make a Home Inventory List for Insurance

Making and updating a home inventory list for insurance purposes may seem cumbersome and time-consuming. It’s often the last thing on the to-do list of many homeowners. However, having one at hand can make it easier and faster to claim reimbursement for the loss of your personal property after a covered event.

Read on to learn easy ways to make a home inventory list for insurance purposes.

Man sitting in front of laptop making a home inventory list

Most homeowners (56 percent) do not have a home inventory, and of those that do, many haven’t updated it in more than a year.

Why Do You Need a Home Inventory?

When you file a homeowners insurance claim for personal property, your insurer may require a Proof of Loss declaration – a notarized, sworn statement detailing the losses you suffered and the amount you’re claiming.

Most but not all insurance companies require this document after you file an insurance claim. Some insurers might not automatically require it as part of the claims process but can request it at their discretion.

Failing to submit a Proof of Loss form when requested to do so might cause your insurance company to delay or deny your claim.

If you suffer a substantial loss due to, for example, fire damage or water damage, you might not be able to recall all the items or details thereof you have lost. Having a home inventory at hand can make your life a lot easier!

In addition, a home inventory list might help you:

  • Verify losses on your income tax return.
  • Choose the correct amount of personal property coverage you need.

Note: If an item appears on your home inventory list, it doesn’t necessarily mean your insurance company will reimburse you the amount you’re expecting.

Factors your homeowners insurance company takes into account include:

– Whether you have “replacement cost” or “actual cash value” coverage.

It falls outside the scope of this article to discuss replacement cost and actual cash value, but for a detailed explanation, refer to our article on recoverable depreciation.

– Special limits of liability.

Homeowners insurance policies typically limit the reimbursement value of certain items. A standard HO-3 policy, for example, might only allow up to $1,500 for jewelry, watches, furs, precious and semiprecious stones.

What to Include in Your Home Inventory List

Man sitting behind desk thinking

Your home inventory is a list of the personal possessions in your home. It typically includes anything in your house that’s not considered a fixture or not permanently installed.

In principle, your list should include as much detail as possible about an item, such as:

  • Description of the item
  • Make, model, and serial number (if applicable)
  • Date and place of purchase
  • Purchase price
  • Estimated replacement cost

Use receipts (if available), digital photos, or video(s) to support the authenticity of items on your list. If you don’t have a receipt or can’t remember where or when you bought an item, a photo or video taken inside your home might be sufficient proof of ownership.

Not all items need detailed descriptions. For example, it’s sufficient to state you have 10 pairs of socks. You don’t need to include details, such as the color and composition of each pair.

Note: If applicable, include personal property in other structures or residences besides your home (“dwelling” or “residence premises”). It includes the property of others in your home, including a guest or a “residence employee.” But note that different coverage limits might apply.

How to Create a Home Inventory

By following a simple, step-by-step process, creating a home inventory can be quick and easy.

Step 1. Create a sublist for each room – By creating a list per room, it’s easier to manage your home inventory and ensure it’s complete. If you have a fire in your kitchen, for example, you can only refer to your kitchen inventory without going through your whole list searching for items.

Compiling a home inventory can be tedious and time-consuming. However, by focusing on one room at a time, you don’t need to complete your list in a single day. For example, you can do the kitchen today and your main bedroom tomorrow if you’re pressed for time.

Step 2. Prioritize higher-value items – Start by listing the highest-value items in a room first. Listing your kitchen appliances, for example, should precede making an inventory of your pots and pans or cutlery drawer.

Step 3. Group similar items together – Group generic goods together – items named based on product type and not an individual brand. For example, if you have 20 t-shirts, you don’t have to describe each t-shirt individually, except for luxury brands.

Step 4. Determine estimated replacement cost – Replacement cost isn’t cast in stone. It’s an estimate only. But don’t guess, unless you recently bought an item and remember how much you paid. You might be surprised to find out how much an item you bought several years ago costs today. Use online platforms, such as Amazon, to determine what identical or similar items are selling for, or visit relevant stores in your local mall.

Step 5. Take photos and/or videos – In the absence of receipts, and even if you have receipts, use your cellphone to take photos or record a video of your home inventory. It provides prima facie (first impression) evidence that you own the items on your home inventory list.

Keep Your Home Inventory Up-To-Date and Safely Stored

Keep copies of your home inventory, including receipts, photos, and videos, in several places. For example, keep a copy at home, work, in a safety deposit box (if you have one), and online, such as secure cloud file storage services.

Update your home inventory regularly as you buy new personal property and replace or discard items you no longer want.

Consider Using a Home Inventory App

Woman holding a lightbulb

Several apps can help you create a home inventory. Many include features such as the ability to add photos, sort items per room, and calculate the total value of your personal property.

Some apps are free, while others require a monthly subscription. Choose the app that best fits your needs.

Popular apps include the following:

That’s a Wrap

Having a home inventory can make it easier and faster to claim reimbursement for the loss of your personal property after a covered event. We trust that after reading this article, you’ll find it easy to create a home inventory list for insurance purposes.

If you have a large or complex insurance claim, hiring a licensed public adjuster to act in your best interests is a wise decision. A public adjuster can help you overcome the challenges of managing your claim and can assist you in getting the best possible settlement offer you’re entitled to.

Avner Gat, Inc. has 17+ years of experience as a public adjuster in Los Angeles, covering Southern California. We protect homeowners from the games and fine print that insurance companies are known for.

Call us at (818) 917-5256 to find out how we can assist you.

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