One of the last things you want to happen is for disaster to hit your home, whether it’s in the form of a fire, storm, or burst pipe. The idea of the structure of your home being compromised by an incident is scary enough. What’s potentially even more alarming is the loss of the valuable goods in your home, as they have monetary and sentimental value.
Luckily, a homeowners insurance policy will protect your home and personal belongings from most forms of disasters that may occur. Having home insurance is the main way to be prepared for any incidents that come your way. One way to stay on top of your personal belongings, both for personal and insurance reasons, is to create a home inventory sheet.
Writing up a home inventory sheet before an accident occurs will save you time and stress when you’ll need it the most. Especially if the loss is drastic, it might be hard to keep track of everything that may have gotten lost in the accident; without a home inventory sheet, many homeowners don’t collect their full insurance benefits. While your property is still intact, take the time to write up a home inventory sheet so your losses won’t be quite so devastating.
What needs to be included in a home inventory sheet? What information would home insurance companies find the most useful?
Not only is this the most effective way to identify the item, it’s helpful for your insurer to see the exact name as it was sold. Depending on the type of home insurance you have, this will help your insurance company figure out if this model is still on the market or not.
Where It Is in the Home
This might seem like a strange detail, but it’s actually one of the most important components in a home inventory sheet. If you have a fire in your kitchen, you and your insurer know that your appliances and certain furniture pieces will need to be replaced, but what if you keep something in your kitchen that’s somewhat unconventional, like the TV you watch while you cook? Not only is this helpful for your own memory, it’s good to have proof for your insurer that this item did reside in the destroyed room.
What It Is
The item’s category may not be particularly important to your home insurance company, but it may help you in organizing the sheet.
Not all items will have the serial numbers on them, like most furniture pieces, but for items with a serial number (or even a barcode), this will help your insurer in reimbursing you for this object. Most electronics and portable appliances have a serial number hidden somewhere; since these can be some of the more high-ticket items, you’ll want to mark these numbers down.
If you can recall the time frame in which you bought the object, this will help with your claim. If you bought a timeless piece in 1995, it may not have diminished in value, but if you bought an electronic item in 2010, it’s surely outdated.
Location of Purchase
Again, if you just started creating your home inventory sheet, you may not remember where you bought each item, especially if you’re one to dispose of receipts. This will help your case, but if you don’t remember the purchase location, it’s better to leave this area blank than to make a guess.
If your couch is brand new or lightly used, you’ll probably deserve more of a payout than if it has cat scratch marks and stains. Even better, if you have recent photographs of certain pieces, you’ll have more evidence to prove to your insurer.
Price at Time of Purchase
This category can include educated guesses, especially if you bought certain items a long time ago. This is especially important if you have a replacement cost policy. (This type of insurance policy provides you reimbursement for the amount of money it might cost to replace an object of similar value.)
Proof of Purchase
All you need to mark for this section is “Yes” or “No.” This refers to whether or not you kept the receipt for this item. If you only just decided to make a home inventory sheet, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have any receipts, but keeping your proof of purchase could provide extra evidence for your home insurer.
Warranty (If Applicable)
If you have certain electronic items, like a smartphone or laptop, you may have purchased a warranty to protect it. If you lose this item before the warranty runs up, you might make out well. If the warranty is up, it’s not a big deal.
Estimated Present Value
How much do you believe you could sell this object for today? This is helpful for your home insurer if you have an “actual cash value” policy. (This policy takes objects’ depreciation into account. Your insurer will reimburse you the amount of money this object would be worth today. If you have a microwave from 2000, for instance, you wouldn’t receive the same amount of assistance as if you have a microwave that you purchased last year.)
If you have any other details to share about this item, you can share it here. If this item has sentimental value or you got it as a gift, you can include that in the notes. Some of your notes may not be helpful to your insurer, but you may be able to help your case. Don’t write notes for every object, just the ones that need clarification or specification, and keep them as brief as possible.
If you want to save yourself and your insurer time and stress following a disaster, create a home inventory sheet. Though it may take some time, as it should, you won’t regret doing so. Keeping it updated with any future purchases you make is just as important as writing it in the first place. It might seem like a hassle, but you’ll thank yourself if you run into a situation in which part of your home is destroyed or broken into.