inventory provides a detailed record of all your possessions. Its purpose is to expedite the claims process
in the event of loss, theft, or damage – all of which are possible during a
While it takes time to put together an inventory, the security it provides cannot be underestimated. Here are some of the benefits you’ll receive from producing a household inventory:
Your household inventory can be as simple or as detailed as you like, but it should include the following information:
It’s also a good idea to include a description of each item when appropriate. In the case of electronics, this might include special features. In the case of antiques include the date of the piece as part of the description. You can also use the description column to identify family heirlooms as well as one-of-a-kind or custom made pieces.
Another good policy is to keep receipts for all major purchases and for any items that include a warranty. Include a column on your inventory to indicate whether or not you have a receipt for the item.
If you do not have a receipt for an important item, bank/credit card statements can be used in some cases. In addition, you can look at your order history to determine the cost of an item and the date of purchase for items purchased online.
Any other pertinent transaction documents should be included with your inventory as well. These might include certificates of authenticity, appraisals, and so forth.
All purchase documentation should be scanned in order to retain an electronic copy of the information.
A household inventory could consist of a simple visual record of your possessions. You can make a visual record using photographs or video. A visual record is useful for establishing proof of ownership. It also provides evidence of the condition and appearance of items. It is a good place to start, but it is not recommended as the only record of your belongings.
For added security, you will want to maintain a written record as well. You can do this by designing your own spreadsheet, or you can utilize one of the many apps designed for this purpose.
Once you've determined the method for recording all your information, you’re ready to get to work. Tackle one room at a time until you are done. Be sure to capture every area of your home including your basement, attic, garage, and any outdoor structures (shed, shop, carriage house).
Record all items of value to include:
Capture a wide
angle view of each room to demonstrate the magnitude of the loss in the event
of a disaster. Then zoom in on specific
areas of the room and individual items.
For instance, in the case of a book collection, you will not want to take separate images of each book. A view of the bookcase lined with books is sufficient. However, if you have a particularly valuable book, such as a first edition of a classic, you may want to photograph it separately.
Larger items such
as furniture, appliances, and electronics should be photographed
separately. Zoom in on brand names,
model numbers, and (if possible) serial numbers. In addition, high value items such as jewelry
or collectibles should be individually photographed.
If videotaping your possessions, be sure to include an audio commentary as you progress from room to room. Zoom in on high value items and provide any pertinent information in your commentary.
Make sure all photos and video are dated.
Storage and Maintenance
Once your household inventory is complete, you will want to make a copy of everything associated with it. This includes photos, video, receipts, and appraisals, in addition to the inventory itself.
Store one copy of your inventory in a safe location, preferably outside your home since its main purpose is to serve as a record of your belongings in the event of a disaster. The safest option is to keep a copy in a bank safe deposit box, or online safe deposit box.
Another option is to make a copy to keep at the home of a close friend or relative.
You will need to
update your household inventory every six months or so. Remove any items you no longer possess and
add new items. Major purchases should be
added as soon as possible.
When you move, you should hand carry your household inventory as proof of value should you need to file a claim for a lost or damaged item.
Put together a household inventory and enjoy peace of mind knowing you will be adequately compensated in the event of loss, theft, or damage.
Click here to return to Organize Your Move.
Click here to return to Step-by-Step Declutter.