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Before a Catastrophe: Home Inventory Tips

Avoid future insurance nightmares by taking a proactive approach today with a home inventory of your belongings. There are many ways to document your belongings including home inventory software, videos, and photos. No matter which route you take, it's important to take it!

  • Home inventory software – Software takes many forms with home inventory software that walks you through the process as well as do-it-yourself lists entered into an Excel spreadsheet. To ensure that you list everything, take a room-by-room approach and work your way around the room in a clockwise motion. For example, start in the kitchen and work your way around the kitchen from your immediate left and move clockwise detailing everything. From there, move to the next room and repeat. Make sure to detail the item, its description and age, its serial number (if any), and other crucial details.
  • Digital photos – Take digital photos of all of your belongings. Again, go room-by-room and methodically work your way around each room in a clockwise direction. Many digital cameras embed the date into the photo which can be helpful in proving your losses.
  • Video inventories – If you have a video camera, document your belongings with it. Since you can record both images and sound, not only can you show your belongings, you can talk about them. For example, "I purchased this antique lamp at an auction in the summer of 2009 and paid $600 for it."

No matter which form your inventory takes, it won't do any good if you don't have access to it after a loss. For example, if your house burns down and nothing's left, if your software, photos, or video home inventories were also destroyed, you'll have to rely on your memory when filing your claim. For this reason, store your home inventory away from home.