Every American homeowner should have a record of his or her property to ensure that an accurate home contents insurance claim is filed. An up-to-date home inventory helps property owners in three ways: First, it expedites and simplifies the settling of their home owners insurance claims. Secondly, it enables them to calculate losses for their income tax return. Thirdly, it helps them purchase the necessary amount of insurance to replace the objects they own. A home inventory may also be helpful in assessing whether personal property limits set forth in the property insurance policy should be increased.
In preparing a home inventory, everything should be included except animals, vehicles and items insured under other policies. Homeowners should begin their home inventory by listing and describing all of their possessions, starting with recent purchases and making sure to record the place of purchase, price, model and make. Purchase contracts, appraisals, and sales receipts should be photographed and attached to the home inventory list. Policyholders should count clothing by classification- shoes, coats, shirts, for instance- noting the items that are of high value. The serial numbers of important electronic equipment and appliances should be recorded. A home inventory should not overlook objects stored in the garage and basement. For the documentation of new possessions, those recently married should add their wedding registries to the home inventory.
Home Inventory Tips
1. List valuable items:Homeowners should list all valuable possessions and should consult their agent to ensure that items such as art work, collectibles and jewelry that may have increased in value have sufficient property insurance. Appraisals for value and authentication may be needed for older items.
2. Take photographs: Photos of rooms and important objects should be taken, both in close-up and wide-angle shots. For purposes of ownership verification, it is helpful to include a family member in the photos. Policyholders should briefly describe and date the pictures. Closets, drawers, toys and CDs should be photographed. Homeowners with film cameras can scan the pictures or ask their film developer to save them to a disk.
3. Make a videotape: Policyholders can take a home inventory by walking room-by-room through their home, videotaping and describing the contents.
4. Use a personal computer: To perform a home inventory, homeowners can utilize their personal computer. Software packages which include a room-by-room program facilitate the task.
Policyholders should store their home inventory, receipts, and material receipts in a safe location off-premises, either in a safe deposit box or at a friend's or relative's house.
5. Store the written home inventory list, receipts, and material (disk, tapes, and film/digital pictures, videotape, and audio cassette):
6. Regularly update the home inventory: The home inventory should be updated continuously as new items are acquired, significant purchases are made, or when the homeowner moves.
In sum, it is important for homeowners to perform a home inventory since it will help them know accurately what items are in their possession, put a dollar figure on their valuables, and obtain the insurance needed to cover the personal property. Those who do experience a loss will certainly feel much better knowing that they prepared a home inventory for home contents insurance purposes.