Five easy steps to taking a home inventory

While home insurance is an essential part of safeguarding your home and possessions, many Colorado policyholders let taking a home inventory fall by the wayside.

Why take home inventory?

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), having your home inventory handy can drastically speed up the claims-filing process (meaning you get reimbursed for damages quicker), verify losses for your tax returns, and help you purchase the right amount of coverage to protect your valuables.

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But don’t let the task of accounting for all of your possessions overwhelm you. We’ve compiled five easy steps for making home inventory easy.

Step 1: Make a List

Start your inventory by making a laundry list of your possessions, where you purchased them, and what you paid for them. When it comes to inventorying electrical equipment and appliances, make sure to record the serial or product number. This information can typically be found underneath and along the backside of appliances.

The I.I.I. recommends creating a separate category for clothing, counting each piece and making note of any items which are especially valuable (an antique fur shrug, designer clothing, etc.).

Make-it-easy tip: If making a list seems intimidating, start small. Document recent purchases and large items first and work your way down towards older and smaller items.

Step 2: Single Out the Most Valuable Items

Antiques, artwork and jewelry can be particularly devastating to lose. Once you’ve made your list, make sure to single those items out. If you’re not sure what they’re worth, it’s a good idea to have an appraisal done so you know how much coverage those items need.

More importantly, you should ask your Colorado home insurance agent if those items will be covered by your home insurance policy. Some items, like those mentioned above, may not be covered under a standard policy. If that’s the case, you’ll need to purchase a policy extension called a rider to make sure they are covered.

Step 3: Snap Some Photos

Taking photos of your home and belongings comes highly recommend by insurance professionals. This way, you create a visual record for both yourself and your agent.

After you’ve photographed or videotaped your belongings, make sure to label the memory card, prints, or video tape, explaining what’s shown and when the record was made.

Step 4: Copy Your List to a Personal Computer

Remember that list you made earlier? You’ll want to enter that information onto a personal computer for safekeeping. In combination with your photos, video and paper lists, keeping an electronic file on hand will serve as an added layer of protection.

Make-it-easy tip: Store this file by emailing it to yourself or storing it in a central location such as those offered by Google (search “Google documents” to get the free applications). The I.I.I. also offers a free program called Know Your Stuff which you can use to document your belongings by room.

Step 5: Store Files, Lists and Photos in a Safe Place

Give yourself one more layer of protection, and store your home inventory materials somewhere outside of your home so that they can’t be damaged by flood or fire. Drop copies off at a friend or relative’s for safekeeping; your bank safe deposit box is also a great alternative.

Now that you’re on your way to creating a thorough home inventory, it’s important to remember to review this list annually, making adjustments for any items you’ve purchased or acquired, as well as any items you no longer own.

Keeping your inventory detailed and up to date will speed the claims process along if disaster strikes and ensure that you’re carrying the right amount of insurance coverage. So don’t be intimidated by taking stock of your possessions—use these tips to get it done quickly and efficiently!

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Our insurance article titled "Five easy steps to taking a home inventory" is intended to give basic consumer information, not professional advice.