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How to Complete a Home Inventory

Most basic insurance policies include personal property protection, which covers all the items you own and your valuables. In order to determine the amount of coverage you’ll need in your policy, you may need to take an inventory of your property. If you lose property from theft, fire, or other circumstances, this inventory will also make your claim settlement easier and faster. This won’t be a quick task — it will take some time and effort. But it will likely pay off in the long run.


Make a List

Here’s how to start: Make a list of your possessions, including a description of each item, the make and model, and where you purchased it. Home inventory checklists and inventory software are available online if you’d like to do this on your computer. It’s also wise to photograph or videotape important or expensive items.

If you have receipts or appraisals, keep those on file. Jot down the serial numbers for major appliances and electronics. For clothing, it’s not necessary to inventory every piece you own — just count the number of items in each category (e.g., shoes, pants, shirts). If you own especially valuable pieces, include those in your list.

For big ticket items, such as jewelry, collectibles, antiques, and artwork, ask your insurance agent if these need to be insured separately.
Once you’re finished, store the inventory in a location away from your home, such as a safe-deposit box or a relative’s house. Remember to add any new purchases you make to your list!


Photo Tips


Some helpful tips to keep in mind when taking photos:


  • Write on the back of the photo: the item shown, the date the photo was taken, the make or brand of the item, where you bought it, and the purchase price.
  • Get both wide-angle and close-up shots.
  • For clothing, take photos of the inside of your closet and drawers to document quantity.
  • Avoid glare by photographing shiny objects (such as jewelry and silver) against a dark backdrop.
  • For china and pottery, photograph the pattern and the manufacturer’s mark.
  • File your photos (on a disk or in print form) with the copy of your inventory that you’ve stored outside your home.
  • Don’t want to take photos of every item? Group your most valuable or theft-prone items and you’ll only have to take a few shots.


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  • Last edited March 13 2008

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