If your home and personal property is destroyed by a fire, flood, hurricane or other disaster, it may be more difficult than you realize to remember all the items you had in your home before the event. And without an itemized list of the items you lost, you cannot get the recovery you deserve from the insurance company.
One way to avoid this is to create a personal property inventory. You can hire someone to do this for you, but it isn’t difficult to do it yourself.
- Go room by room. Don’t just sit and try to think about each of the items in your rooms. Instead, go into one room and focus on that space completely while you are in it. Do not start another room until you finish the one that you are in.
- List every item in the room. As you look around the room, write a comprehensive list of every item in the room as you look at it. This is really the only way to ensure that you make note of every possession you own.
- Add descriptions, serial numbers and any other distinguishing facts. Once you’ve gone through every room of your home and catalogued each of your possessions, go back to the room you began the process in and start noting any distinguishing facts, serial numbers and descriptions next to each of the items you have listed. You should do this after you create the basic list of items because the process can take a while. If you try to do this all at once then you may actually suffer an insurable incident before you even have your basic list complete.
- Attach receipts or third party valuations. If you have any receipts for the items that you own, or any value estimates from third party appraisers, be sure to attach them to your inventory.
- Add pictures. Pictures can often tell a better story than a simple list, and they certainly tell a verifiable one. Take pictures of the rooms you have just inventoried and attach it to your list. You can also take additional close-up pictures of any especially valuable items in each room.
- Store your inventory in a safe, fire-proof place and send a copy to your insurer and agent. You need to store your copy of the inventory and pictures in a place that can’t get damaged by flood, fire or wind. Also, send a copy to your insurance company and your agent so that there are back-ups in the event that you can’t access yours after a disaster.
Buying insurance is just the first step in a process used to cement your financial security. Keeping an inventory of all your personal items ensures that you get the benefits you are entitled to after an insurable incident.