Pictures of hurricane damage in coastal communities remind us that disaster can strike suddenly, destroying all our worldly goods. To prepare for the unthinkable, insurance companies strongly urge you to keep a current inventory of your possessions in a safe place to make claims filing easier. Here’s what to do.
What to inventory. Your homeowners insurance company can provide you with a detailed checklist of the personal property you should inventory. Start with one room and work through the house.
How to take inventory. There are three ways in which you can make a record of your belongings. One is to shoot a video tour of your home, going room by room. The second is to take pictures of all your possessions. The third is a written inventory list. A combination of these offers the safest preservation of your records.
Video inventory. This is the easiest to do. Before starting, organize your belongings and how you will progress, room by room, through your home. Have drawers and closets ready to display what is inside for the camera. Have the lights already on throughout the house.
As you pan your camera through each room, closet and drawer, give an oral description of each item, the brand name, where you got it and how much you paid for it. Don’t forget the basement, attic, garage and storage shed.
Picture inventory. With this method you go through the house and take pictures of everything. Label each picture with a file name description. You could include the price you paid for each item in that file name, or provide a written inventory with prices, using the pictures as a supplemental record.
Written inventory. Using the comprehensive list supplied by your insurance company, develop a written list of everything, prices, brand name, where you purchased it and serial numbers, if relevant. This process will be lengthy if done properly.
Be sure to record brand names, model and serial numbers of electronics and appliances. With items that can appreciate in value such as jewelry and art, have them appraised and keep the appraisal papers in a safe place along with the inventory.
Where to keep your inventory. Keep a hard copy of your written inventory in either a fireproof safe or a bank safe deposit. Keep video and pictures on a flash drive stored in those same places, or uploaded to cloud storage, or both. Having two set of records, stored separately, provides extra security.