If your home was damaged by fire or a burglar made off with your valuables, would you remember the details of your possessions? If asked, could you recall your TV’s screen size and brand name? How about your camera or video camera? Do you remember when and where you bought these items and how much they cost?
If your belongings are stolen or destroyed, your insurance company will ask you to provide a record of them. Without an inventory, important details are sure to escape you. Add the trauma and stress a major loss can cause, and inevitably, you’ll forget items. Save yourself time, money and frustration by planning ahead and completing a personal property inventory.
How an Inventory Can Help You
If a disaster strikes, a personal property inventory will help you:
- Provide your insurance company with a complete list of your household goods and personal belongings so you’re sure to receive compensation for everything your policy covers.
- Promptly file a complete claim that can be settled quickly and accurately.
- Confirm that you have adequate coverage for your belongings.
- Determine which items were stolen and identify recovered property after a burglary.
- Provide a record of serial and model numbers for easy identification of your items.
- Provide a receipt from the original place of purchase.
- Verify any parts of your loss that you may write off on your federal income taxes.
A Complete Inventory Contains:
- A listing of all your items with pertinent facts
- Receipts for your most valuable objects
- A videotape or photographs of your home and contents
- Current appraisals
It’s Easy to Get Started
Prepare your inventory by hand or on a computer. Several software packages are available just for this purpose, or design your own form with a spreadsheet program. Keep in mind, a computerized inventory is easy to update and store.
If you design your own form, include columns for the name and description of each item, the quantity, model and serial number, purchase date, where you bought it, original cost and estimated current value. You may want to add a column to indicate if you have a receipt or photo of the article.
Cover One Room at a Time
One way to complete your inventory is to tackle a different room of your home each week until everything’s listed. Record your high-valued items, such as jewelry, silverware, special collections, antiques, paintings and artwork.
Then list furniture, carpeting, electronics like TVs, stereo equipment and computers. Remember clothing, draperies, wall hangings, rugs, CDs, tapes, pots and pans, linens, tools, lamps and appliances that weren’t included in the purchase of your home.
Open drawers, cupboards and closets, and record what’s inside. Open toolboxes, china cabinets and storage bins and include their contents.
Use a Camera or Video Camera
Supplement your inventory with photos or a videotape of your belongings. These will provide further proof of ownership and add detail to your written descriptions. They also help document each item’s condition and size.
Videotape or take wide-angle photos of entire rooms, which will help show the magnitude of a loss. If you use a video camera, you can record audio descriptions and make special comments. Take individual, close-up shots of expensive items and group shots of lower-value items. Zoom in on labels and special features, like signatures on artwork or serial numbers on appliances and electronics. Be sure to date each photo or use the date imprint function on your video camera.
When you inventory outdoor items, include bicycles, sporting goods, yard equipment and any other articles kept outside. While you’re outside, it’s also a good idea to photograph each side of your home’s exterior. Include your carport and other structures like a storage shed. Capture rare trees or shrubs and unusual landscaping. These things aren’t considered personal property, but it will be helpful to have a record of their appearance in case of a loss.
After You’ve Completed Your Inventory
Once you’ve completed your inventory, copy everything, including lists, appraisals, receipts, videotapes, disks and computer printouts, and have an extra set of photos developed. Store one inventory packet off premises. A safe deposit box is the most secure location, or ask a friend or relative to keep a copy.
Be sure to update your inventory packet every four to six months. In the meantime, save receipts for any new items you’ll need to add. If you make a major purchase, update your inventory as soon as possible. And remember to delete items you no longer have.
Is Your Insurance What You Want?
Too many people find out after a loss that they should have increased their coverage amounts or purchased replacement cost coverage. Use your inventory to help you avoid this common mistake.
Add up all of your current estimated values to find out how much it will cost to replace everything, then compare this figure with your policy’s personal property limit. This will be a good indicator of whether or not you need to increase your coverage.
Special Limits on High-Value Items
Insurance policies place special limits on valuable personal property, such as jewelry, silverware, artwork, tools, special collections like stamps and coins, and firearms. If you own these items, check the limits in your policy. If they’re not high enough, you may need to purchase a scheduled personal property endorsement. This is an addition to your policy that will increase your insurance limits on these items.
It’s a good idea to have valuable items appraised on a regular basis and to keep your appraisals with your inventory.
Find out more!
For more safety information, or a no-obligation quote, contact your authorized Foremost Insurance agent. For the name of the authorized agent nearest you, call 1-800-237-6136.