No one wants to focus on the bad or destructive events that could happen to your home, but if you live in a region of Australia prone to bushfires, cyclones or severe storms, then you are one of many who needs to consider putting together an inventory of your homes valuables and contents.
In fact, all of us should consider putting this inventory together.
Unforeseen circumstances such as break-ins or home disasters like house fires will all require putting a call through to your insurance company. This task may seem unnecessary, but many insurance companies require that an inventory of your valuables be submitted with any insurance claim.
So, how do you even start the process of gathering together a list of items? Best to take a step back. Your first task is to simply go through these tips, and decide which method of inventory taking you prefer.
Keep Detailed Records
It is so important to keep thorough records of your belongings. This can help the claims process happen faster, and ensures you include all items that are eligible for coverage.
It might sound a little obsessive, but going from room to room making a list of all items is essential.
Be particular, and list your most valuable possessions. Include your shed, items under the house or in attic storage.
Keep all your receipts for large and valuable purchases, such as furniture and electrical goods. You can do this via paper receipts in a folder, or taking photos of receipts. Electronic receipts stored digitally or online are another option.
Try and update your inventory as regularly as you purchase new items, or remove items from your home. In the event that you are missing receipts for large and valuable items, you can always look through your credit card and bank account records for purchasing details.
You may have items in your home that were gifts or an inheritance. Now is the time to have them appraised, if you believe they may hold significant monetary value. Ask for the appraisal to be documented, as this can be added to your inventory.
Appraisals are beneficial for a number of reasons.
Carrie Mitchell, founder of TWS Home Inventory says in an article for ClaimsJournal.com, “The benefit of having an experienced third party do the inventory is there’s no dispute of claim… A third party eliminates the burden of proof that it’s not fraud.”
The benefit of having an experienced third party do the inventory is there’s no dispute of claim… A third party eliminates the burden of proof that it’s not fraud.
Home Inventory Lists
When moving from room to room, big items are obvious and are rarely omitted from home inventories. However, you could be sitting on a bit of a goldmine when it comes to the value of fairly non-descript household items. The following list reflects items that are usually rather valuable, but often forgotten:
- Office equipment not in regular use (fax machines, extra landline phone)
- Expensive fittings in bathrooms (marble, tap ware, etc.)
- Clothing (most people have at least a few items that they invested a lot of money in, such as a wedding dress, suits, leather jackets, handbags and shoes)
- Do you have expensive hobbies? Your teacup, coin, stamp or comic book collection may be worth a lot of money.
- Sports equipment does not come cheap. Make sure a section of your inventory covers these items.
- Wine and spirit collections are often rather valuable. Don’t forget the inventory of your cellar or drinks cabinet!
The age of the app means managing our everyday tasks via smartphones, tablets and laptops. Here are a few suggestions if you like the idea of a digital record of your home inventory:
- iTrackmine is a free online inventory app. This app will literally walk you through your home, asking you to document all your items, even the ones you might forget.
- Own a Mac? Consider the Delicious Library app. It looks like a cross between iTunes and iBook’s once you start it up. With this user-friendly app, you can scan barcodes or add items manually.
- Do you use Evernote? Originally designed for everything from note taking to archiving and research, this app allows you to gather and save practically any type of file all in one place, which means it works great for home inventory lists too.
Some apps have additional features like tutorials, user forums and to-do lists. These apps are truly meticulous so you really cannot go wrong in choosing one over another. Software programs to look at include Home Inventory Pro 2011 and HomeManage 2011.
Good if you simply prefer a list of all your belongings, rather than the pictorial look the apps require.
If you are a spreadsheet whiz, then naturally this will be a great option for your home inventory. You may already be familiar with programs such as Excel and Google Sheets.
They are especially good if you simply prefer a list of all your belongings, rather than the pictorial look the apps require.
You can customise your spreadsheet to suit your needs, including subheadings particular to certain items, while omitting categories that do not suit the contents of your home.
If you don’t like apps or spreadsheets, grab your camera or camcorder and opt for a home photo shoot or movie. Just don’t get creative! All you need to do is keep it simple and accurately record your belongings.
Kids can do their own rooms… photographing their computers, electronic devices, sporting goods and other belongings.
Two tips for this method include taking shots of serial numbers, makers’ marks, etc. If possible, store the movies and photos digitally since it’s a more secure option.
Inventories certainly take time but get the family involved. Jeanne Salvatore, of Insurance Information Institute based in New York City says in an article for ClaimsJournal.com, “Kids can do their own rooms… photographing their computers, electronic devices, sporting goods and other belongings.”
There is one final point regarding your home inventory. Make sure you keep it safe! You don’t want it to be one of the victims in a disaster. If it’s not digital, keep it in a storage location away from your home (work or a safe deposit box). Using online tools means the information is stored online.
Hopefully, you will never actually need to use your inventory, but if the worst should occur and your home and contents are not intact, at least your peace of mind will be. If you do not have home and contents insurance and you think you might benefit from it, be sure to get a quote with Budget Direct.