In the case of a major loss or catastrophe, your home insurance will pay to rebuild your home (up to your dwelling coverage); but you’ll likely have the need to replace your personal property as well. As you recover and rebuild, your insurance company will ask you for a list of personal property that’s been damaged. However, a recent survey found that 56% of homeowners have not made an inventory of their personal property.
Having an estimate of your personal property value will help you prove to your insurance company the items you owned and help expedite their ability to pay your claim. It will also help you decide how much coverage you need. More than half of all homeowners do not carry enough insurance to adequately replace their home and belongings, according to FEMA.
How to make a top-notch inventory list
1. Identify what is and what isn’t considered personal property.
Generally, your personal property covers everything not permanently attached to the house. This includes:
- Sports equipment
- Dishes and Kitchenware
- Musical instruments
Pay close attention to what is and isn’t covered in your specific policy. Some policies require you to pay extra to add coverage of valuable collections like art, antiques, or jewelry. (See post re: insuring your high value items)
2. Take inventory of your belongings
Go room by room through your home and use a checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything. You can use this one https://www.myfrugalhome.com/printables/HomeInventoryChecklist.pdf or create your own. The easiest way may be to take photos or videos as you go. Be thorough. Open closet doors and drawers to show what’s inside. However, you don’t necessarily need to describe every single plate or pair of pants. For things like clothing, you can keep a count by type of item.
As you go through your belongings, make sure to record:
- Descriptions of each item
- Year, make and model numbers, if applicable
- Serial numbers
3. Determine the value of your items
Determine how much it would cost to buy your property new at current prices. Keep in mind that in the event you need to file a claim, your insurance adjuster will depreciate the value of your property to account for its age if you have “actual cash value” coverage, “replacement cost” provides full value without depreciation.
4. Store your list in a safe space
Remember, you’re keeping this list in case of a natural disaster, a fire, or another catastrophe. Make sure your inventory is stored in a fireproof box, safe, or the cloud. If you’ve kept the list electronically, consider keeping a copy on a flash drive or emailing it to yourself.
5. Continually update your list
As you buy new things, make sure your home inventory is kept up to date. Consider keeping receipts for larger purchases as well to easily prove how much you have paid for them.
Jennifer Mathes, owner of Allstate – The Mathes Agency, assisted in the writing of this post.