Home Inventory: How to Document Your Personal Property
By: Janet Kaufmann
A home inventory is a comprehensive report which includes detailed descriptions and photos of the personal property in and around your home. While considered a key component in documenting insurance claims, a home inventory is also valuable for estate and financial planning.
Importance of a Home Inventory
If you were to step outside your home, could you list all the items you own? Even if you could list everything, would you be able to provide detailed information—including the purchase date, cost, model, and serial number—on the contents of your home?
A home inventory ensures that homeowners are sufficiently prepared, in terms of their insurance coverage, to deal with potential losses. A detailed list of all the items destroyed, damaged, or stolen is required for an insurance claim. Proper documentation ensures a faster and smoother claims process, as well as maximizing your insurance reimbursement.
In fact, you must provide documented proof of ownership to receive a settlement covering the full extent of the loss. According to the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, most policyholders do not realize that the burden of proof rests with them.
Benefits of a Home Inventory
Obtaining a comprehensive home inventory:
- Verifies the condition of your assets before moving or placing them in storage in case of loss or damage.
Home Inventory in Estate and Financial Planning
A home inventory also acts as a valuable resource and supplement for wills, trusts, or other legal documents:
- A home inventory provides a valuable resource for estate sales and auctions.
Information Included in an Inventory Report
The information gathered in a home inventory report includes:
- Serial number
- Purchase date
- Photos and video footage
- Heir designation
- Estimated or appraised replacement value
- Scans of receipts and important documents
Compiling Your Own Home Inventory
While you can create your own home inventory, it is often put off or partially completed since it requires a substantial investment in time. It also requires the proper equipment (scanner, camcorder, and camera) and software to create a detailed and comprehensive inventory which will be accepted by the insurance company.
Hiring an Inventory Specialist
An alternative to conducting your own home inventory is to hire a reputable company to compile it for you. Advantages include:
How to Choose an Inventory Specialist
When hiring an inventory specialist, be sure they have and provide the following:
- Ask any questions that you may have concerning what will be provided.
Keeping a Home Inventory Secure
Once your home inventory is complete, store the information in a safe location away from your house such as a safe deposit box, at your insurance agent or lawyer, or by uploading it to a secure data backup provider.
- How to Prepare Your Own Home Inventory Report (article)
- How to Document Possessions in Your Home in Case of Disaster (video)
- Documenting Your Valuables (video)
- Insurance Policy Limits (video)
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