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Why Do You Need a Home Inventory?

Jason Metz

A home inventory can speed up a homeowners insurance claim process. It can help ensure that you make a claim for all of your belongings if there’s a fire, tornado or other damage. If you forget what you own, you won’t get reimbursed for what you lost. Here’s what you need to know to do a home inventory.

What should be included in my home inventory?

A home inventory should include:

  • Item description.
  • Estimated value.
  • Purchase date.
  • Serial number (if applicable).
  • Receipts (if applicable).

How do I make an inventory list?

There are a few good ways to make a home inventory: on paper, with photos and video, and using home inventory apps.

Whatever method you choose, make sure you store a copy outside of your home. If the home inventory is destroyed along with your possessions, you’re back to square one. You may want to store a copy of your home inventory in your desk at your office, a trusted family member’s home, a safe deposit box or an online cloud service.

Make a list

One of the easiest and most effective ways to make a home inventory is the old-fashioned way: a list. Make sure the list is detailed, organized and complete. Don’t skip the small stuff, like towels and holiday decorations. The cost to replace those types of items can add up.

Here are a couple of ways you can get started on your home inventory list:

  • Organize the list by room. That way, if a particular room is damaged, you’ll know exactly what items are gone.
  • Organize the list by items. Keep detailed records of categories of items, such as furniture, antiques, artwork and jewelry.

If you have to make a homeowners insurance claim , the more detail you can provide, the better. For example, if you have a valuable coin collection, you’ll want to provide details for each coin, including its condition and the year it was made.

The best home inventory lists are updated on a yearly basis. This will help track possessions you’ve gotten rid of or purchased in the last year.

Take photos/video

Another way to do a home inventory is to film a walk-through of your home. The camera on your phone can do the trick. As you walk through the rooms, describe each item, the date of purchase and, where needed, capture the serial number. Don’t forget to open drawers, closets and storage spaces.

Use a home inventory app

You can download a home inventory app to a smartphone to track items and store photos and videos.

Home inventory apps

App Notable features Devices Cost
Digital Locker by Allstate You can access Digital Locker through Allstate’s mobile app. iPhone & Android Free
Encircle No limit to the amount of information you can store for each item;

targeted for professional use but can be used for a personal inventory.

iPhone & Android Free
Home Inventory from Binary Formations Estate-planning tool that documents items you want to give to specific heirs. An insurance coverage analysis feature calculates whether you have enough insurance. Mac, but can be backed up to iPhone $39.99
Memento Database You can synchronize your home inventory with Google sheets and store it online. iPhone, Android Free to $10 per month, depending on how many inventory libraries and the amount of cloud storage you choose.
MyStuff2 Export your data as CSV files, PDF reports, or Excel or Open Document spreadsheet files. iPhone Free version limited to 15 items; upgrade to MyStuff2 Pro for unlimited items.
Sortly You can track items that friends borrowed from you. iPhone, Android Free, up to 100 items; $3.99 per month for unlimited items.

Home inventory software

Similar to an app, home inventory software for a Mac or PC can track your items, serial numbers, receipts and warranties. Here are a few companies that offer home inventory software: