The Importance of Making a Home Inventory Checklist
A home is replete with miscellaneous valuables, from unremarkable items like wide-screen televisions to irreplaceable, brilliant works, such as masterful art deco paintings. When the unforeseen occurs, homeowners will want to be prepared. A home inventory checklist provides homeowners with concrete evidence to submit to insurance agents in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. All assets, low- or high-priced, should be documented in a master home inventory checklist.
Recognize a Checklist’s Purposes
A home inventory checklist is beneficial under numerous circumstances:
Before purchasing a home or condo or renting an apartment, the homeowner should document all possessions. By providing a complete inventory of the goods a homeowner owns, the homeowner’s insurance agent is better geared to offer the most optimal policy designed to meet the homeowner’s unique needs.
After moving into a home, unforeseen circumstances can devastate the property. Fires, break-ins and flooding are a few examples of catastrophic events that can destroy a homeowner’s valuables. Homeowners stay one step ahead of disaster with proof of the loss of personal belongings prior to an unfortunate event. When filing an insurance claim for the losses, the master home inventory record is the base upon which claims will be evaluated.
Home inventory checklists also are important in estate planning. The checklist provides a guide when distributing property to heirs.
When hiring movers upon shifting to a new locale, a home inventory checklist becomes an integral element of a successful move.
Record Using Technology
Valuables can be recorded with the latest advancements in technology. Aside from ample photographs, videos, notes and receipts, homeowners can utilize the cutting-edge features of newly developed apps. Since 2018, several relevant apps have become readily available to help make creating a home inventory checklist easy and thorough. No more fumbling with organization. Several apps feature convenient organizational features, such as the ability to upload photos, scan barcodes and sort items according to the home’s rooms. Certain apps allow the user to add warranty information, purchase dates and serial numbers to the inventory visually captured by a smartphone or tablet. The critical data can then be exported to a spreadsheet or PDF, among other preferred formats.
Document Inside and Outside the Home
In addition to documenting valuables inside the home, government officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency advise that photos of the exterior of the home be taken. Cars and boats are added examples of valuables to be documented.
Inside, walk through the house and record your assets. In the bedroom, for instance, note such goods as collectibles, beds, dressers and stereo system. In the bathroom, identify electronics, like the hair dryer or electric toothbrush. The living room is likely to host a flurry of valuables, including laptops, artwork, sofas, entertainment centers and even curtains. While making your way into the dining area, document fine china, crystal, silver and chandeliers. The kitchen, too, contains items worthy of documentation, including refrigerator, stove and coffee maker. Video game systems, bookcases and artwork may be situated in the family room or den. Miscellaneous goods, like tablets and computers, the washing machine, bikes, cameras, AC unit and tools, ought to have a place in the home inventory checklist.
Once a home inventory checklist is prepared, the checklist should not be stashed away, gathering dust. Updates ought to be regularly made. Insurance experts recommend updating the master checklist at least annually, ideally at the start of the year.
In the whirlwind of extravagant shopping during the gift-giving season, presents big and small will be exchanged. New and treasured items are likely to come into homeowners’ possessions. Document these newfound valuables in the home inventory checklist once January rolls around.
Even safer is to update the master home inventory checklist as soon as new items are purchased or received. High-value acquisitions especially should be documented immediately.
When creating or updating the home inventory checklist, note key details. Included in the master list should be critical identifiers, like the cost of the items, brand names, models, descriptions and serial numbers. Make copies of the receipts and attach them to the checklist.
Seek an Appraisal
Professionally appraise cherished paintings or sculptures, unique collectibles, precious heirlooms and authentic jewelry. Homeowners will need to provide the insurance agent with proof of the worth of such high-value items in the event of a loss. Possessions like these may also be separately insured, at which point homeowners should submit the corresponding appraisals to their insurance agent.
Store the Checklist Safely
Once the homeowner has exerted the effort to document the goods inside the home, it is critical to store the master checklist out of harm’s way—ideally offsite and away from the home. Many people keep the physical list in a safe deposit box or an electronic version online using cloud-based services.
The offsite location prevents the master checklist from being lost, stolen or from succumbing to the ravaging effects of an in-home fire.
Be aware that certain free home inventory apps will only store the checklist on your phone, rather than back it up to the web, which becomes disadvantageous if you lose your phone.
When a natural disaster, like a fire, overtakes your home, be prepared with both a home inventory checklist and the contact information of a reputable fire damage restoration company. These professionals are fully equipped to handle the devastating effects of fire. Soot and smoke can permanently damage the home’s interior with dangerous levels of carcinogens and oils. Technicians from a restoration service provider utilize industrial-strength equipment and safe, chemical cleaners to eliminate the soot, smoke and lingering odors. These specialists will also assist homeowners with insurance claims, ideally with the help of a prepared home inventory checklist.