3 Simple Steps to Create a Home Inventory

If you ever have to file a homeowners insurance claim, here's what you should know.

Woman marking in a checkbox
(Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Step 1

If you file a homeowners insurance claim for the partial or total loss of your home, your insurer will require a home inventory to reimburse you for your possessions. To avoid drawing up a list of items from memory, take stock of your belongings now. Look for a worksheet at your home insurer’s Web site or use the one at www.insureuonline.org/home_inventory_checklist.pdf (opens in new tab) to help you organize the task. Or create and store your inventory online with Know Your Stuff (opens in new tab), a free tool from the Insurance Information Institute that’s also available as an app for iPhones and Android phones.

Use Our Tool: Is Your Home Fully Protected?

Step 2

Work room by room or by category. At a minimum, take photos or video as you go. If you have time, describe each item, including the quantity and serial number. Add the purchase date and price, and gather receipts or credit card statements. If you don’t have a record of the price, look for a comparable item for sale online. Have jewelry, antiques, art and other valuables appraised (see www.appraisers.org/find-an-appraiser (opens in new tab)).

Step 3

Keep a copy of the inventory that’s accessible from anywhere, say, in the cloud or even in an e-mail to yourself. The inventory will also help you determine whether you have enough coverage for your home’s contents and document for tax purposes losses that insurance doesn’t reimburse. Update your inventory periodically, especially after making major purchases or receiving expensive gifts.

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The payoff

Insurance claims will be settled more quickly and with less hassle.