How To Make A Home Inventory List

No one ever wants to have to make an insurance claim. Claiming means something unexpected and destructive has happened; dealing with a break-in or a fire can be overwhelming.

To reduce stress, speed up the processing of your claims, and ensure you have the right level of coverage, you must create a home inventory list. Items in your home should be described by name, price, and a brief description. Other categories can be added; the more detail you have, the better!

The Value of a Home Inventory

Home inventory lists exist primarily to improve your relationship with insurance companies. Understanding the total value of the items in your home can help you determine how much coverage you need. You’d be surprised how much the stuff around your house is worth when you total it all together, and you might need more coverage than you’d suspect.

We hope you never have to claim - an adage in the insurance world is that it’s one of the few products you buy in the hopes of never having to use it. Here’s a thought experiment for you: right now, without looking around, list every item in your home, make and model, when you bought it, and the value at the time of purchase.

Pretty hard, right?

Now, imagine doing the same thing while dealing with whatever hazard caused you to claim. Unless you have a photographic memory, we’re discussing an impossible task. When you’ve already compiled an inventory, claiming becomes much more straightforward, and your stress levels drop substantially.

Having a home inventory isn’t just useful for insurance, though. There are times you might wonder whether it’s best to repair or replace appliances; knowing the year you bought them and how much they cost can help you figure out what’s the most financially prudent move. Organizing almost anything has several benefits. 

I Rent. Do I Still Need a Home Inventory?

The answer is an emphatic yes. The value of homeowners' insurance is mainly in the protection it grants your home, which more likely than not, is worth quite a bit more than the stuff inside your home.

When you rent, the value of your insurance is found almost entirely in coverage for contents. That means you’re paying almost exclusively to cover items in your home; determining their value is essential to finding the right level of coverage.

There are a lot of tips for first-time renters, from how to find a place to how to spruce it up. One of the best tips? You can get tenant insurance. It’s relatively inexpensive and can save you a lot of grief!

How Do I Make a Home Inventory?

You can make a home inventory physically or digitally; there are a lot of advantages to the digital format. First, digital inventories are easy to sort and edit. Second, digital inventories hosted on the cloud give you added security. When you have a physical inventory in your home, you risk being damaged by the same hazard that caused you to claim. Should you opt to keep a physical inventory, keep it in a safe place outside the home. The best option is to create multiple digital and physical copies of your inventory and keep them in separate places. The downside to this method is that it can be quite time-consuming if you need to edit your inventories.

There are a variety of home inventory apps you can opt to use. You must pay for most apps, but some offer free services. Honestly, though? You can create a comprehensive home inventory list with little more than a spreadsheet.

Organizing Your Home Inventory

At the very least, your home inventory should contain three categories: the item’s name, its value, and a brief description. Determining an item's value can be tricky, so it’s often easier to list the year you bought it and its purchase price - that way, you don’t have to calculate depreciation yourself. 

The item's name should be as detailed as possible: make, model, serial numbers, and any other identifiers the manufacturer may have used. 

Creating an inventory for collectibles can be a lot more complicated because you have to track the market value of your collecting. Getting your collection appraised regularly can help you keep your home inventory up to date and ensure you have the right level of coverage.

There are several other categories you might include in your home inventory. Marking the item’s location (or creating a page in your inventory for each room in your home) is a good way of keeping your list organized. You might also opt to document whether or not the item is warranted, the item’s condition (new, excellent, poor, etc.), and whether or not you’ve kept proof of purchase. These categories are another reason digital inventories are handy; you can sort by category to make reading and editing much easier. 

Updating Your Home Inventory

You should update your home inventory anytime you purchase items of substantial value. You probably don’t need to update it every time you go grocery shopping (unless you have costly tastes), but new furniture, electronics, appliances, and similar items should be listed. Similarly, selling your old items or renovating your home will mean it’s time to update your inventory. Our broker friends in Winnipeg, Reider Insurance, agree; they’ve seen the stress of home insurance claims drop substantially when their clients have updated home inventory lists. 

Home Inventories are Good for Everyone

Home inventory lists make life easier for you, your brokers, and the insurance companies. Claims can be processed with less stress when you’ve got an itemized list of everything you have covered, and brokers can find the right kind of insurance to suit your needs.