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The First Step in Disaster Protection Is Making a Home Inventory

Creating and updating an inventory of your personal possessions can help you make sure you have the right amount of insurance coverage and help make filing insurance claims faster in the event of a disaster.


Scott Holeman

Media Relations Director, Insurance Information Institute

Imagine losing everything you own in a hurricane, tornado, or wildfire. Would you be able sit down and recreate a comprehensive list of all your personal property from memory? From furniture to footwear and kitchen gadgets to children’s toys and lawn tools? Probably not. That’s why creating and maintaining a home inventory is well worth the time and effort it takes to develop one.

Whether you own a home or rent an apartment, everyone has possessions they want to protect. Creating a home inventory will help you keep track of what you own, record its value, and help make informed decisions about how much insurance coverage you need. Having an updated list of personal property will be invaluable in the event you need to file an insurance claim. 

Step one

While documenting everything you own may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Consider grouping your possessions into categories such as by room, hobby, or electronics. Don’t forget seasonal decorations, athletic equipment, and household tools. Items like clothing and shoes can also add up quickly, so make time to keep lists and counts updated. Saving receipts and serial numbers on high-ticket items can be especially helpful.

There are many apps designed to personalize room descriptions and store all your receipts, manuals, warranties, and other important personal and household documents. They can also generate the type of information needed for an insurance adjuster’s report, such as photos and videos. In addition, some apps can record changes in home construction, compare damage progression, prepare and store emergency plans, and identify evacuation routes.

Making your list

Pick an easy place to start, like a closet, pantry, or other contained area and don’t forget to open drawers and doors as you go room-to-room. Use a smartphone to take photos or record video of your items. Then, make a note describing the details and cost of each possession. Once you have compiled your home inventory, make sure you store it electronically in the cloud. 

Don’t forget off-site possessions if you use a self-storage facility, because those items are covered by your homeowner’s insurance, too. Be sure to update your inventory annually, as well as anytime you make a major purchase. If you have expensive jewelry, furs, artwork, and collectibles, ask your insurance professional if you need additional insurance protection.

A home inventory can not only document your loss but also be very helpful in identifying how much insurance you need. By sharing these details with your insurance professional, you can have peace of mind knowing you have the right amount of coverage to replace everything you own, as well as the records necessary to get your insurance claim settled quickly. 

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