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The Right Stuff: How and Why to Create a Home Inventory

May 04, 2023

Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Theft. Fire. No one wants to think that the “unthinkable” could happen where they live. But it does, to thousands of Americans every year. One way to prepare, protect yourself, and put your mind at ease is to create a home inventory so that you’ll be compensated for “the right stuff.”

A home inventory is basically a checklist of everything you own. If you ever have to make an insurance claim, then having a home inventory will:

  • prove your loss
  • speed up payment from your insurance company
  • make sure you get the most money from your insurance company
  • keep you from forgetting items to claim at a stressful time

If you still don’t think you need one, try the “five-minute” test or the “one-room” test. Give yourself five minutes to stand in one room of your home and list everything you see. Estimate the replacement cost of each item, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly the total adds up. Even the contents of your closet or kitchen alone are probably worth a lot more than you’d expect.

Making a list of everything you own may seem like an overwhelming task, but the best time to begin is now. Any preparation you do is better than nothing at all.

  • Walk through your home and take pictures and video of everything you see, then work from that. Don’t forget to open closets and drawers. Record one room at a time rather than tackling the whole house at once.
  • Include as much detail about each item as possible, including date and place of purchase, serial and model numbers, and your best estimate of replacement cost.
  • Look at free home inventory apps to help you through the process. You can also check with your insurance company for recommendations. Using their inventory app can save you time if you need to file a claim.
  • Download a copy of your completed list and keep it in a safe, private place away from home where you can access it in an emergency – at work or with a trusted relative.

Once you’re confident that you have “the right stuff” on your list, you may want to contact your insurance company to make sure your coverage is correct. Having them review your policy along with your new home inventory can help you determine whether you have enough insurance to cover a major loss, or if you’re paying for more coverage than you need.

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