Whether a flood, a fire, a break-in or some other kind of disaster occurred, how easily would you be able to list everything that had been destroyed or stolen? If you’re like most people, the task would seem overwhelming, and it might not even be possible to complete.
When you need to make an insurance claim, a detailed home inventory can be invaluable for ensuring a smooth process and maximizing your insurance coverage. Without one, you may end up leaving a lot of money on the table.
Where do you start?
There are many different ways to approach the process, so it’s perfectly fine to pick a method that works best for you. Ultimately, the goal is to get a complete inventory of your possessions recorded in some way. Here are some suggestions, however, that may help:
- Take it one room at a time: Begin with one room, and carefully document each item within it before moving on to the next. This approach helps prevent you from overlooking items and keeps the process organized if you need to do it in stages.
- Be descriptive: For each item, include a detailed description. For electronics and appliances, write down makes, models and serial numbers. For other items, include specific details about each item’s color, size, features or materials.
- Make use of receipts and appraisals: If possible, attach receipts, appraisals or warranties on items to your inventory records. This is particularly important if you have collectibles, art, antiques or other items that may have significant value.
- Take photos: Pictures really are worth more than words, sometimes. Clear, high-resolution photographs can help you prove an item’s worth, and carefully taken videos can help you spot items that might have been overlooked on your paper inventory sheets. Photos and film also serve as good proof of ownership and can expedite the claims process.
- Don’t forget the attic, garage and basement: When creating your home inventory, remember to include items stored in basements, attics, garages, sheds or storage units. These areas often house valuable possessions that may be overlooked but are still covered by your insurance policy.
A home inventory is not a one-time task; it requires periodic updates to reflect any changes in your possessions. In addition, make sure that you safeguard your home inventory records by storing them in a secure location. (Consider using a combination of physical and digital storage methods, according to your comfort level.)
A good home inventory can make it much harder for an insurance company to try to deny or devalue your claim – but it’s certainly not impossible to seek rightful compensation without one. If you’re struggling to get an insurance company to treat you fairly, consider seeking legal guidance personalized for your unique circumstances.