October 23rd, 2014
You should create a written inventory of your possessions for your homeowners insurance or renters policy. It may seem like a lot of work to keep track of everything you own, but if you don't, you may not get it covered when it needs to be. If there's a flood, fire or break in and you can't remember everything that may have been destroyed or taken, it'll be difficult to make an accurate claim to your insurer.
It's better to avoid this frustrating situation by taking the time now to thoroughly document your home from top to bottom. Once the major leg work is over, all you'll have to do is update it when you get rid of or purchase things.
Decide how you want to create your inventory. You can use the paper and pencil method - which may get tiring - or create a spreadsheet on your computer or tablet. Additionally, your insurer may have a handy tool or worksheet online to help you with the process.
However you decide to format your list, don't try to create it from memory because you'll miss things. It's best to physically walk from room to room to document what you own. For example, start in the kitchen and make a description of your major items such as the refrigerator, stove, microwave and mixer. The more specific the description, the better. Instead of saying TV, write down the brand, size and model.
Along with the description of the appliance, write down the date it was purchased, the serial number and its estimated value. Next move to the living room and do the same for the furniture, electronics and personal items. Don't forget to inventory places like your attic, where you may have stored extra furniture, or your hallways, where you might have installed fixtures or hung paintings.
In addition to writing down what you own, it's a good idea to take pictures of not only expensive and important items individually, but all of the rooms of your home as they normally are. These pictures may be necessary in the future if you need to prove the condition of an item or your home to an insurer.
When you're finished
Once you've completed your inventory, don't just throw it in a drawer. Put it somewhere secure where you won't lose it, such as a safety deposit box or a fireproof safe. If it's in digital form, save it to your backup hard drive or the cloud. Don't forget to keep copies of your pictures as well either in the safe or online.
Update your inventory
The major appliances in your house might stick around for a decade but other things come and go. If you purchase larger items, keep the receipts and add them to your inventory. If you sell items or they break, make sure to take them off your inventory.
An up-to-date document will be more of a comfort than you can imagine if you're in a tough spot and have to make a claim in the future. When there's been a robbery or disaster, you don't want to have to try and remember what you own. It'll be easier and faster to have that information ready for your insurer.