How to Make a Home Inventory
After a tornado destroyed Becky Gamble’s home in Southport, Ind. (pop. 1,852), 30 years ago, she spent days documenting her lost possessions so she could file an insurance claim.
Gamble, 58, learned the importance of having a household inventory—a detailed record of possessions and their values. “Now I keep receipts for major purchases and capital improvements, and have inventoried my antiques,” Gamble says. She also photographs her belongings.
Gamble’s lesson is one that we all can learn from, says Dick Luedke, of State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Ill. “None of us can remember everything we have,” he says. While not mandatory for filing a loss or damage claim, having an inventory can help make the process quicker and easier.
An inventory should list all household possessions, including furniture, appliances, clothing, electronics, collectibles, jewelry, antiques, musical instruments, and photography and sports equipment. State Farm Insurance (www.statefarm.com) and the Insurance Information Institute (www.iii.org) have online tools and software for preparing an inventory.
Here are some tips to help you document your possessions:
- Break the job into manageable parts. Tackle one room or category of belongings at a time.
- List and describe items and include serial numbers. Attach receipts and appraisals of antiques and jewelry, and include the appraiser’s name and address.
- Update your records when you purchase a new item or discard an item.
- Photograph your home’s contents. Take close-ups of individual items, and take a photo of the room to show that the items are located in your home. Print the photographs or store them on CDs.
- Keep your itemized lists and photographs in a safety deposit box or another location away from your home. At www.knowyourstuff.org, there are electronic storage options that allow you to store your inventory on a secure database.