Protect Your Property With a Home Inventory

Updated December 23, 2023
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Creating a comprehensive home inventory is a critical task that many homeowners overlook until it’s too late. The importance of having a detailed inventory of your belongings cannot be overstated, especially in the face of unexpected events such as natural disasters, theft, or accidental damage. This article outlines the significance of creating a home inventory and provides practical steps to ensure this important task is completed efficiently and effectively.

The Importance of Creating a Home Inventory

  1. Ease in Filing Insurance Claims: A well-documented inventory simplifies the process of filing insurance claims. In the event of loss or damage, having a detailed list of your possessions with their estimated value can expedite claims and ensure fair compensation.
  2. Accurate Insurance Coverage: Regularly updating your home inventory can help in assessing whether you have adequate insurance coverage. This is crucial in avoiding underinsurance, which can lead to significant financial losses.
  3. Peace of Mind: Knowing that you have a record of your possessions provides peace of mind. In stressful situations, such as after a burglary or a natural disaster, a pre-prepared inventory can be a valuable resource.
  4. Efficient Recovery Process: In the aftermath of a disaster, a comprehensive inventory can significantly speed up the recovery process, allowing for a quicker return to normalcy.

Steps to Create a Home Inventory

1. Start Immediately: The best time to create a home inventory is now. Procrastination can lead to a lack of preparedness when disaster strikes.

2. Document Room by Room: Begin in one room and move systematically through your home. This approach ensures no area is overlooked.

3. Use Technology: Leverage digital tools such as inventory apps, digital cameras, and cloud storage. These tools make it easier to create, store, and update your inventory.

4. Include Detailed Descriptions: For each item, record a description, purchase date, estimated value, and, if possible, attach receipts. For electronics and appliances, note serial numbers.

5. Capture Everything: Include items that might be overlooked, such as clothing, books, and small kitchen appliances. The cumulative value of these items can be significant.

6. Update Regularly: Update your inventory annually or whenever you make significant purchases.

7. Store Copies Safely: Keep a digital copy in the cloud and a physical copy outside your home, such as in a safe deposit box.

8. Consider Professional Help: For valuable collections, such as art or jewelry, consider seeking professional appraisals.

Consider Some Free Apps Customized for Inventory Purposes

  1. Encircle is a powerful app designed for insurance adjusters and restorers. You can access the simplified Encircle free home inventory app, which allows you to create a home inventory list using your smartphone. The app lets you take inventory on multiple properties, which is an especially convenient feature for landlords. In addition, you can create PDF or spreadsheet reports that can be used for filing claims. 
  2. Sortly was designed for small businesses to track their inventories. However, the company offers a free version for individuals. The free app limits your inventory to 100 items, plenty for an apartment dweller. Sortly lets users create custom barcodes and QR labels, plus sort and filter inventory via custom lists. (Operate an inventory-rich small business from your home!) The upgraded monthly Advanced plan allows 2,000 entries, unlimited code label generation, and an integrated barcode scanner.
  3. More than 33,000 companies in 160 countries use Skyware Inventory to manage their inventories. However, you can use a free ad-supported version to create a home inventory. Save manuals, receipts, and warranties on hundreds of items. The free web-based software allows you to create a searchable database of your items, too. The best part? There’s no limit to how many items you can upload. 

The creation of a home inventory is an essential aspect of responsible homeownership. It not only aids in the efficient handling of insurance claims but also serves as a personal record of your belongings. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that your home inventory is thorough, up-to-date, and readily accessible when you need it most. Remember, it’s better to have an inventory and not need it, than to need it and not have it.