Imagine your property’s been burglarized or destroyed by fire. While you’re coming to terms with what happened, law enforcement and insurance adjusters are hounding you for itemized records and receipts for your possessions. How do you prove you actually owned what was stolen or damaged?
Creating an accurate inventory of your assets before disaster strikes is important. However, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 59 percent of homeowners don’t have records of their possessions. Out of those who do, nearly half lack any receipts, and 28 percent don’t have a second copy of their list stored offsite in case one copy is lost or damaged.
Taking a few simple steps today to make a home inventory can pay off big tomorrow. Follow our tips below to do it right!
Step 1: Create a video inventory
Paper can burn in a fire, fall apart in a flood, or get lost in a move. Creating a digital inventory of your assets and saving it to the cloud will ensure you have access to these records anytime, anywhere, regardless of what’s happening with your property.
Most insurance companies want photographs, model numbers, and other identifying information about your assets. The easiest way to capture all this information is via video. We recommend moving through your house room by room with a smartphone to film your valuables. Make sure to provide a description of the item, get a good view from multiple angles, and record the model number of any electronics. If you own any designer or rare items, you’ll also want to include photos or videos of the item’s tag or brand identifiers to help prove its authenticity.
Step 2: Create a digital log
A video is a great way to prove ownership and show the physical details of each asset, but it isn’t the easiest thing to sift through when you’re looking for a specific item. Creating an easily-referenced written list is a great second step.
This doesn’t have to be complicated! Make a Google spreadsheet with columns for the name of an item, a brief description, the price you paid for the item and where you purchased it, the date you acquired it, and the model number (if applicable). This way, you can quickly find and share information without scrubbing through an hour-long video.
If both of these suggestions seem a bit intimidating, many insurance companies now have home inventory apps you can use to store pictures and even scan product barcodes to help make this task a bit easier.
Step 3: Store your records safely
Your inventory won’t be helpful if it’s lost, damaged, or inaccessible. Upload copies of your video, your digital log, and any accompanying documents such as receipts, certificates of authenticity, or insurance appraisals to the cloud. If you can, create more than one account in case one is corrupted. Storing an onsite copy in an external harddrive is a smart backup plan.
Step 4: Keep your inventory up-to-date
Once you create your initial log, it’s tempting to just forget about it. Do your best to add new items you purchase in a timely manner so your documentation remains accurate. We recommend revisiting your asset inventory at least once a quarter.
Other helpful tips:
Creating an inventory of your assets is important, but you also need to purchase the right coverage to ensure you’re protected. For example, expensive jewelry such as engagement rings typically need their own rider to qualify for replacement. Or, if you run a business out of your home, coverage of your business assets will be limited if you only have a regular homeowner’s policy. You’ll need to take out a separate business policy to cover these assets.
It’s important to review your policy at least once a year so you can make changes to protect any new purchases!