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Creating a Home Inventory

A home inventory is a list of the entire contents of your home including price, brand, and model, if applicable. Having a detailed home inventory can speed insurance claims after a fire, flood, or burglary as well as help you determine the right amount of insurance to begin with.

Until you capture every last item in your home, your claim will probably be undervalued. Of course, a complete inventory could be extremely time-consuming to compile. To help get you started, here are some tips:

Start Small by Starting Big

By starting your home inventory with the highest value items that you own, you’ll get the most value from your time. In the end, the sum of smaller items will likely be even more valuable, but when just starting out, focus on big ticket Items.

Items that Are Often Overlooked

Looking around each room, our eyes tend to see past some items. Make sure that you account for the following: appliances, rugs, desks, entertainment centers, and the contents of drawers, closets, attics, and basements.

Include New Purchases

Regardless of which existing items you inventory first, capturing new items as you purchase them is a good idea. You may not have a good estimate for what you paid for something years ago, but new purchases are the easiest to inventory because you have all of the information you need.

An Inventory is More than a List

Using photos of items is an excellent way to supplement your inventory. With digital cameras, the cost of an extensive photo inventory is minimal. While it doesn’t replace an actual inventory, filming a walkthrough of your home may be a good idea when you first start out. It may not capture the serial number and value of each item, but it will serve as a reminder of what you owned should it be needed before your full inventory is complete.

Get High Value Items Appraised Every Few Years

Items which appreciate in value should be appraised on a regular basis. Being reimbursed for less than an item is truly worth is money out of your pocket.

What to Do With Your Inventory

For obvious reasons, your inventory should be stored outside of your home. You may be tempted to store it with a trusted neighbor, but doing so can be risky. If a natural disaster were to destroy your home, chances are that a nearby home may be damaged as well. So store your inventory in a safe deposit box, with a distant friend or relative, or archive your data online. If you choose the last method, ensure that your data is kept private and safe. Placing your inventory video on YouTube would give a would-be thief a preview of all your home had to offer.

While creating an extensive home inventory will take a lot of time, not having one could cost you a lot of money. If you need encouragement, try this exercise: write down every item you can think of in any one room of your home. When your list is complete, go to the actual room to see how well you did. You’ll likely be surprised to discover how many items you forgot about. Considering the number of items that you’d probably miss when doing a complete inventory from memory, you quickly realize that making the investment of your time to create a home inventory is time well spent.

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