If you had to replace everything you own, how much would it all add up to? This is the quandary many homeowners face after losing their belongings in a fire, flood, theft, or other covered loss. We can practically guarantee you'll be surprised at the total cost of all your belongings, no matter how modest your home or apartment. After all, you didn't buy it all at once; chances are you’ve accumulated many items over the course of a lifetime.
Ensuring you are sufficiently reimbursed for damaged/stolen personal property is just one reason why a home inventory is important. A home inventory can also help you determine how much insurance you’ll need as well as verify any losses you might need to declare on tax returns. And, if you've ever wondered about your net worth, a home inventory is an important component of being able to put a realistic number on your assets.
Before You Get Started
The two most important goals of a home inventory are to help confirm the following for each item you list:
- You own it
- Its current value
Being able to prove the above can make the insurance claims process go much smoother than if you have to negotiate the value of all lost or damaged items with your carrier.
Plan to review your home inventory at least once a year to add or remove items from the inventory as necessary. You should perform a video walk-through at least once a year, which can be used to identity the most recent condition of your possessions.
Home Inventory Templates
You can use free apps, like the home inventory app by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), or paper forms, such as the home inventory checklist by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FOIR). You could also create your own electronic spreadsheet or customize the home inventory contents template Microsoft has begun for you.
What Info to Capture on a Home Inventory
No matter what format you use for your first home inventory, make sure you can easily add or remove items, which will make your annual updating a cinch. Among the most significant details to capture for each item are:
- Date purchased
- Price you paid
- Brand/model #
- Serial number (usually available on appliances/electronics)
A receipt, especially for high-value items, can be extremely helpful. A good habit to get into is snapping a photo of items along with their receipt and keeping these photos in a separate album or folder in your phone (and backed up to the cloud).
Home Inventory Tips
If it seems overwhelming or you only have limited time to dedicate to the task of creating your first home inventory, here’s an idea: Start by creating the simplest inventory possible, making sure to capture details about the most essential items in each room. Then, in another 6 months or so, go back through and do a deeper dive, including more items you didn’t capture the first time around. Doing this can also help create the habit of returning to the inventory – because it's most helpful when it's kept current.
Living / Family / Dining Room
To begin, choose a room mostly filled with bigger items, which will be the easiest to inventory. For example, in the living room, family room, and/or dining room, you’ll want to focus on the following types of personal property:
- Gaming systems
- Entertainment center
- Lighting fixtures
- Bookcases and books
- Artwork and decor
- Curtains, blinds or other window treatments
The important thing to remember about itemizing objects in your kitchen is to stick to the following items.
- Furniture: tables, chairs/stools
- Appliances, big and small:
- Air fryer
- Coffee maker
- Cookware, dishes, cups, and utensils
- Table linens, placemats
- Art and decor
Don't log food, either perishable or shelf-stable, because this is least likely to remain accurate over the course of a year. The food you keep in the house will also be of minimal financial value – at least compared to other items in the home.
Cataloging all you own in your bedroom may seem like a big ask, but you can break down what’s in there by category. For example, after noting all the furniture in your bedroom, tackling your clothes may be a lot easier than you think. Simply list the number of each item type: 4 dress pants, 6 jeans, 20 T-shirts, 3 sneakers, 7 dress shoes, etc. Of course, you’ll want to spend more time on custom-made or expensive articles of clothing, jewelry, or accessories like designer purses.
Focus on the following in your bedroom when creating a home inventory:
- Lamps or other light fixtures
- Stereo and other electronics
- Linens (bed sheets, towels, etc.)
- Wall decor
- Window treatments
- Clothing, shoes
Remember, the job of your home inventory is to identify your personal property – items you’ve purchased separate from what is considered a permanent fixture or part of the dwelling itself. Bathroom items to include on your inventory include:
- Updated fixtures/vanity/countertop
- Light fixtures
- Electrical appliances: hair dryers, electric toothbrush/razor, curling irons
- Curtains, towels, mats
- Wellness devices: blood pressure monitor, scale, etc.
When it comes to personal care products, you might do what you did for your clothing: indicate the number of each item by type, such as 4 blushes, 2 mascaras, 10 lipsticks, 2 hairbrushes, 1 deodorant, 3 shampoos, etc. If anything is particularly costly, it’s better to list it separately.
Don’t forget about items stored off-site! This includes anything you might have a self-storage facility, in storage boxes in the attic, a shed, garage or stored elsewhere. Miscellaneous items to include in your home inventory include:
- Washer and dryer
- Cameras and video recording equipment
- Sports/exercise equipment
- Holiday decorations
- Auto equipment
- Vacuum cleaners and other cleaning tools/supplies
Again, even for less expensive items, note them because just imagine how much it would cost to replace it all.
A Home Inventory Is a Must for Florida Homeowners
When it comes to creating your first home inventory, do as much as you can on your first attempt without getting overwhelmed or burned out. Then return to it once you’re feeling a little more fresh and energetic. Once you’ve completed logging all your personal property in the inventory, record a video walk-through of your home, identifying big-ticket items as you go.
If the home inventory process has uncovered special/expensive items, you should contact your Edison Insurance Company agent to make sure you’ve got enough insurance in place to adequately protect them. If you’re not yet an Edison Insurance Company policyholder, you can get a quote online now.