Home Inventory Checklist in 5 Steps

Apr 19, 2021 | Personal Insurance

How prepared are you in the event of a disaster, fire, or breaking and entering, all of which may cause you to lose your belongings from your home? This is where a home inventory checklist is pretty handy-dandy.

Home Inventory Checklist: Making sure everything is accounted for in 5 easy steps

As it is your main living space, it may be difficult to acknowledge that even your home may be vulnerable. After all, it is the one place where you can accumulate items and keep all of your personal possessions freely and without restraint. Your own safe haven, so to speak.

It is not uncommon to not only lose items but to have them completely damaged, to the point of being irreparable and unrecoverable; that is why keeping track of what you have is not only paramount but something that should be gaining the absolute best of your concern.

Remembering the exact details of each item that you have may stand for a difficult, time-consuming task, but it would be the most important piece in the puzzle, that is, being one of the things that may help you the most once you have to make any future insurance claims.

Taking on this project now will definitely smoothen the rest of your journey in handling problems that may arise in the near or distant future; exert all effort now, and be back to normal in no time later on once you do encounter losses.

To set up your very own home inventory checklist, here are a few steps that may help.

Step 1: Get a Bird’s-eye View of Your Property

For the first step, you should naturally start by looking over your property.

As putting together your own compilation of a home inventory needs extra dedication of time and effort, you have to make sure that you spare no details as you jot down everything in order to be able to flawlessly and effortlessly streamline and keep track of them later on.

Doing so not only makes way for convenience but also having a meticulous inventory on hand will help you later if the need for an insurance claim arises.

This is why, for this step, you should set up a general format of sorts beforehand.

While this can be at your discretion, preparing a clear but flexible system when it comes to accounting all of your vulnerable assets would make things easier for you, if you’re not using a spreadsheet or home inventory worksheet: start by writing down a personal basic template that includes a space for the item’s name, its specifications such as its make and model, and its price, if possible. 

Make sure that your documentation of each valuable item also has an organization system that corresponds with your detailed inventory sheet; a clear picture or two (or more) for each item, and you’re good to go.

Step 2: Have a Backup for the Backup Plan

If at all possible, try not to skip over this step, however menial it may probably seem.

Not only that, but you might be able to immediately vacate any tight spots you would be in, all because you took the time to take a few additional steps.

Remember to have a contingency plan for your general inventory list itself; if you can, use digital storage apart from your physical copy, from using compact hard drives to cloud storage.

Ensuring that you have more than one copy or backup of your inventory list rules out the possibility of permanently losing access to any of your records which might get lost, damaged, corrupted, or stolen in the case of any unforeseen circumstances.

Speaking of having more than one backup copy, digital or physical, make sure that you have them properly organized in terms of file names and storage. As per the previous step:

  • Prioritize all important assets of rooms or items, going by relevance. Prepare a proper label for each picture of a room or item, alongside a brief description of all the significant details pertaining to the entry. 
  • Go over everything carefully, and do not neglect accounting any individual items onto your inventory, especially those that might be out of sight and stored in boxes, closets, or drawers.
  •  For documenting entire rooms, walk through your home or your office as you shoot a video of all its contents. Describe them as you go.
  • Still too tiresome? You can spare yourself half the efforts stated here by using a digital home inventory program. Doing such helps you in uploading multiple photos of items, including those that contain their serial numbers, receipts, as well as any other identifying details. If you are using a physical, paper material version, opt for storing it in a safe, different location. 

Step 3: Maintain Your Home Inventory

You may be the kind of person who rarely disposes of items. You can also be the type that has a constant influx of possessions accumulated and then dispose of them after a while. Or, you may be constantly disposing of items, but make significant purchases later, the kind that may be extremely valuable.

Whichever and whatever in any of the above you are, constant changes in your inventory consequently require constant updates in order to have a timely and accurate record.

This is, to a large extent, particularly important to remember for significant or seriously valuable purchases of items.

If you can, it is a good idea to immediately add any of its relevant information to your home inventory as it is around the time that the details can still be fresh in your mind. 

Above that, updating your inventory by deleting the entries of those items you have gotten rid of or no longer own or possess is also something you should keep in mind.

Step 4: Always Remember Your Business Assets

While our topic is on home inventory, it does not simply apply to only your home and personal assets. Whether it is a home business or something similar, you should take extra care of your business assets as they enable you to generate more income and rake in more earnings.

If this applies to you, take into account all your assets that help or are directly used for your business, be it a printing machine, a desktop computer, important files, and documents, you name it. 

All you have to do is either keep their documentation alongside your personal belongings, or you can create a separate file or document for those items that you are specifically or solely using for your business. Keep in mind that the previous steps can generally apply to your business assets, as well. 

Step 5: Take Extra Care of Your Valuables

All your items are valuable, and rightfully so. Some items, however, might be unusual and would require further attention.

Such items, which you may have, include the following: jewelry with precious stones art, as well as collectibles. Any of these items are of value (which could rise further), therefore needing extra attention.

If you have any of these valuables but do not use them often, it would be smart to consider containing them in a safe deposit box.

You have your checklist already… Does it mean you rest now?

After making sure that you were able to make your checklist already, the next crucial thing you will have to take care of is making certain that you have adequate home insurance. How important is that? 

Your checklist enables you to be one step ahead of possible disasters you may face in your home. Home insurance gives the checklist a backbone to ensure you will not suffer financial loss in case of untoward incidents in your home like fire, theft, even when the structural integrity of your house is compromised, to accidents occurring on your property. If such an unfortunate incident suddenly happens on your property and you are insured adequately, your insurance provider can ease up your financial burden with the expenses and even possible lawsuits. 

Do you need to insure your home? 

What type of house do you live in? Is it in a frame house with wooden structure? Or perhaps in a CBS home (Concrete Block Structure)? A prefabricated house? In a condominium or townhouse? Is it your primary or secondary residence? Do you rent it out?

Whatever type of materials you had your house built with, regardless whether it serves as your primary or secondary home, and whether you acquire it as your main abode or as an investment rented out — it is most important that you insure it for your own benefit later on.

What type of homeowners insurance coverage do you need to get?

This type of insurance provides coverage in four areas: your home’s structure, your personal properties or effects, personal liability, and additional living expenses.

Your Home’s Structure

If your home is damaged by fire, hurricane, lightning, or other disasters indicated in your insurance policy, repairing or rebuilding your home will generally be covered by your provider. In many cases, about 10 percent of your insurance coverage for the main house may also be allocated to include other separate structures in your property such as a garage, a gazebo, or a tool shed.

On the other hand, a standard homeowners policy does not include damages caused by floods, earthquakes, or the natural wear and tear caused by old age.

To get the most of your homeowners insurance policy specifically in ensuring the integrity of your home’s structure, best to include all possible angles to cover the rebuilding of your home. 

Your Personal Properties

What comprises your personal properties? Anything from your clothes, furniture, sports equipment, and personal effects are labeled as your personal properties or belongings. Your homeowners insurance coverage protects you in case they get stolen, destroyed by fire, hurricane, or other insured disasters. Your insurance coverage provides 50 to 70% of the house’s structure coverage for this. As this allocation is dependent on your coverage, this is where the home inventory checklist will prove most helpful.

It is important to note that this policy is not limited to on-site personal effects only, as it protects you even if you’re anywhere around the globe – with certain limitations. Some insurers limit the coverage for possessions to 10% of the total package. A $500 insurance also covers any unauthorized or fraudulent use of your credit cards.

Another important feature of this coverage is the inclusion of expensive personal items like jewelry, furs, art, silverware, and other collectibles – with certain limitations. To provide coverage for their full appraised value, you may consider getting a special floater or personal property endorsement with your current insurance. 

It’s nice to know that this coverage also includes your garden with the tree, plants, and shrubs – as long as there is adequate care and maintenance to it.

Personal Liability

Your beloved Labrador unintentionally injured your neighbor’s child during playtime with your kid in your house. First aid was administered, and she was sent to the hospital. It is a good thing you are still on good terms with her family. However, you feel that as a responsible homeowner, you are still accountable for the accident.

Good thing your homeowners policy includes coverage for personal liability. It is coverage intended to pay for claims on bodily injury and property damage the “other” party sustained, caused by either you, your household members or even your pets. 

On the other hand, should the opposite happen and your neighbor decided to file a complaint against you, your policy will still provide coverage for the legal and court fees up to their limit. No-fault medical coverage is also included – as with the above example, the child’s medical bills caused by the accident will be covered by the insurance policy.

Additional Living Expenses

You were supposed to return to your home from a business trip when a hurricane struck and there was massive flooding in your area. An alert was raised and much as you would like to go home, all roads are impassable and many homes are already damaged. You have no choice but to stay in a hotel near the airport. Good thing your homeowners insurance provides an additional living expense coverage for insured disasters like this. Albeit temporarily, this coverage will help pay for your hotel accommodations, meals in restaurants, and other expenses, while your home is being repaired.

As “add-on” coverage, this is just meant to augment the benefits of the policy and is bound by limits – like the amount for the additional living expenses and time frame. The good thing about it however is, it is separate from the “funds” intended in repairing your home up to its policy limit. 

Another important feature of this is in case you are renting out your home. Additional coverage will also be provided for the lost income you might have earned from your tenant’s rent if not for the damage caused by the disaster. 

Other facts about Homeowners Insurance

“Knowledge is power!” Even little-known information matters a lot when dealing with uncertainties. Leave no stones unturned. That goes the same with making sure you are getting the maximum benefits of insurance coverage for your home.

  • Educate yourself about the special endorsement. Most homeowners insurance includes the “basics” but not necessarily back-ups like the sewers, for example. It is not necessarily expensive, but it is also not often added unless asked for. 
  • Verify “other” potential damages to the house’s structure not usually included in the coverage, like those caused by surface water or underground water.
  • Have a clear understanding if your standard policy includes flood coverage as most do not 
  • Coverage for jewelry loss is up to a certain limit only if the cause is one of the named perils in the policy. 
  • The value of the replacement cost of personal properties may depreciate or default to its actual cash value. For example, you purchased your home theater system at $1,500. Your insurer on the other hand pegged its replacement value at $650. In the event of a claim, your provider will likely give you the replacement value of your home theater system and not its market value.

Lastly, it is important that you are clear with your reason for getting your insurance coverage.

It should be first and foremost to protect you from any uncertainties brought by possible financial losses caused by it. Secondly, be able to maximize your coverage by combining features of different policies and saving more in the process. 

As Louis Pasteur once said, “Fortune favors a prepared mind.” 

We would like to help you find ways to protect your home and your investment. Call us now, and we will provide you with the information and coverage that will meet your needs.