Your home – it’s more than just where you live: it’s where you unwind at the end of a long day; where you entertain friends and family; where you build a lifetime of memories; and where you surround yourself with the belongings and keepsakes that reflect your personal style. It can also be one of your most vulnerable possessions: a fire, flood, theft, or natural disaster can quickly wipe out the precious contents of this asset.
Here are some suggestions on how to conduct a home inventory, which can provide documentation to substantiate any claims you may need to file should an unfortunate disaster strike your home.
Work room by room. This project may take a while to complete, so if you take it room by room, it will be less overwhelming. Also, you’ll clearly know where to start up again if you can’t complete the process all at once.
Remember infrequently used areas. Don’t forget to include items that are outside or in otherwise forgotten areas such as the attic, garage, or offsite storage – you’ll want to be sure to inventory expensive items like bikes, tools, lawnmowers and snowblowers.
Capture your possessions with photos or video. Open ALL the drawers, closets, cabinets and storage areas in the room – pull out items if necessary so everything is clearly visible. Using a camera, your phone, or a video camera, take pictures and/or videos of everything,
Document critical information. Make note of serial and model numbers, and other key information that will help identify specific information about your items that may not solely be evident from photos. Also, keep records of when you make major purchases and improvements (e.g., furnace, roof, etc.).
Consider home inventory services/software. If all of this documenting sounds overwhelming, consider using online tools to assist you – here are a few to consider: HomeZada; Collectify; or Binary Formations (for Mac).
Protect your documentation. Once you’ve completed your inventory list, pictures and/or videos, make sure to protect them. Store them in a safety deposit box, in a strong safe or lockbox, with a cloud storage service, or with a friend or family member who lives far away – you don’t want the home where your backup is stored to be subject to the same natural disaster that may hit your home.
Guest columnist Laura Helm is an agent with American National Insurance. You can reach her at 630-307-7723.