BY KIM HUGHES, COUNTY EXTENSION AGENT, FCS –
You never know when a disaster may strike, but you can be prepared with a home inventory. A home inventory can help you to buy the amount of insurance you need; get your insurance claim settled faster; verify losses for your income tax return; and keep track of the belongings you’ve accumulated over the years.
There are many ways to create a home inventory. First, decide on a way to organize your inventory that works for you. You can do it room by room, category by category (furniture, electronics, etc.), from newest items to oldest, or from most expensive purchases to least expensive ones.
There are different approaches to making your list. You can write everything down in a notebook, for example. Or you can take pictures, writing information on the back of the photos or putting information on your computer. If you have a video camera, you can walk through your house filming and describing the contents at the same time. If you have a personal computer, you can download free software that makes creating and keeping a home inventory easy at www.KnowYourStuff.org.
Keep receipts when they are available and note the cost for the item, when you bought it and information about the make and model. Expensive items like jewelry and art work may need to be insured separately. Ask your insurance agent whether you need a floater for your homeowner’s policy.
In some cases, items can be listed by the room in which they are most likely to be found. In other cases, they are grouped together by category. For many items like books, CDs, bed sheets, or pots and pans, you can make a general estimate of how many you have and their estimated value.
Store a copy of your inventory in a safe place outside of your home – with a friend or in a safe deposit box. (If your inventory is electronic, store it on a disk.) That way you’ll be sure to have something to give your insurance representative if your home is damaged. Also, whenever you make a significant purchase, remember to add the information to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.