As part of our international move preparations, we were required to prepare an inventory of all of our household belongings. I had already filled out mounds of paperwork by this point in time and was not thrilled with the tedious task of going around my house room by room and trying to estimate the cost of every single item we owned. However, I could recognize the importance of having accurate numbers just in case anything was to happen. It was scary to have nearly every item I owned packed into a 40-foot container and shipped across the ocean!
WHY DO YOU NEED A HOUSEHOLD INVENTORY?
Regardless of whether you own or rent, you should definitely have a listing of all of your household items. Unfortunately, most of the times that you will need this inventory list will not be happy ones, but you will be so relieved that you have it. Some of the situations include:
- Insuring household goods during a move
- Insuring household goods in a storage unit
- Burglary/theft in home
- House fire or other natural disaster causing complete or partial damage to your home
If you have a readily available list of everything you own, it will speed up the homeowner’s insurance claims process and make it more likely that you will be reimbursed for the value of your belongings.
- Related Post: IN202: Homeowner’s Insurance Basics
STEPS FOR COMPLETING YOUR HOUSEHOLD INVENTORY
When you’re ready to complete your household inventory, you should take the following steps:
- Go room by room and write down all the items in each room, paying special attention to higher value items such as furniture, electronics and jewelry. Don’t forget the garage and basement!
- Take pictures and/or a video of the room itself and individual items. Be sure to cover every angle of the room, so take a minimum of 4 pictures per room.
- Write down the original cost and date purchased for as many items as possible.
- Gather receipts from your past purchases where possible.
- Gather the inventory sheet, pictures/videos, receipts and any other documentation (appraisals, etc.) and scan copies into Dropbox or another online service. Keep the paper copy and/or a flash drive copy in a location away from your home (safe deposit box, etc.).
DOWNLOADABLE HOUSEHOLD INVENTORY SPREADSHEET
I’ve created a spreadsheet (I love my spreadsheets!) to use to track your household goods inventory. The great thing about using a spreadsheet for this task as opposed to a PDF printable is that you can add rooms and items as you need them, embed photo files directly in the spreadsheet, and add up your values quickly.
Be sure now to check your insurance policy after your household inventory is complete to make sure that your personal property insurance limits cover the total values you calculated. If not, contact your insurance agent and update your coverage. Also, check your insurance policy to make sure that any high value items are covered or if they need additional riders to your policy, as there is generally a limit on the value per item covered under a standard policy.