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Create a Home Inventory

Home Inventory Photos

How much “stuff” do you really own? Pots and pans? Small appliances? Furniture? Clothing?

If your home was damaged, destroyed or broken into, would you have an accurate idea of its contents and their value? If your answer is no, you’ll want to create a home inventory list.

In the event of a disaster striking your home, an up-to-date inventory will help you get an insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for tax purposes and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.

How to create your home inventory

Start a home inventory list of your possessions by writing down each item with as much detail as possible. If you have them, attach sales receipts, purchase contracts and appraisals. For clothing, count the items you own by category (e.g., pants, coats, shoes), making notes about any that are especially valuable or expensive. For each appliance and electronic item, record the make, model, price, serial number and purchase date.

Here are a few tips to creating a home inventory.

  • Don't delay. If you’re just setting up a household, making an inventory can be fairly simple. If you’ve been living in the same house for many years, the task can be a little more time consuming. The easiest approach is to pick a room as a starting point and go from there. Make a list of everything in that room and move on to the next.

  • High-value items. Jewelry, art, musical instruments and collectibles may have increased in value since you got them. Depending on the item, they may need to be insured separately. Check with your agent to make sure you have adequate insurance for these items or if they’ll need an appraisal. It’s important your insurance company knows about these items before a loss.

  • Don’t forget day-to-day items. Linens, dishes and clothing might not be as exciting as your new plasma HDTV, but their value can add up fast. Don’t forget seasonal items such as sporting goods and yard tools.

  • Create a digital record. There are many software options and mobile apps that can help you create a room-by-room inventory. American Family’s DreamVault is a no-cost service that allows you to upload photos and descriptions of your belongings. DreamVault also allows you to categorize your possessions any way you wish. This is a free service from American Family Insurance and available to anyone. If you ever have a claim or need to report something stolen, the information is right at your fingertips and accessible anytime from your computer or smartphone.

  • Take a picture. Take pictures of rooms and unique or expensive individual items to have a visual record. Note as much information as you can – what it is, where you bought it, the make, the model, how much it cost, etc. Don’t forget things in closets or drawers either.

  • Take a video. Walk through your house, apartment or condo with a video camera, recording and describing the contents. This can verify that certain items are actually in your home.

  • Storing your list. Regardless of how you create your inventory (written list, photos, hard drive, flash drive or in the cloud), keep your documentation in a secure location. If your inventory is a physical document, store it in your safe deposit box or at a friend's or relative's home. If it is a digital file, make sure to back it up and keep a copy on an external drive or online storage account.

  • Keep it current. Once your inventory has been created. Make sure to keep it current. Whenever you make a significant purchase (new furniture for example) or get rid of something, update your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.

Whether digital or paper, a home inventory is a valuable tool. A thorough inventory will not only help you if you ever have a claim, it will also help determine if you have enough insurance to adequately protect your family’s belongings.

If you have questions about creating a home inventory, contact your American Family Insurance agent.

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