Do you have a home inventory? Is it up to date? Where do you keep it and is it easily accessible?
These are important questions if you’re the victim of a burglary, fire or other disaster and you’re making an insurance claim.
“A thorough inventory of your home’s contents and the associated value of the contents will help you and your insurance representative confirm adequate coverage,” according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “If you need to make a claim, your home inventory will help you receive proper compensation.”
What is a home inventory?
Basically, it’s a list of all your major possessions, including model and serial numbers if applicable, dollar value, purchase receipts if you still have them, and photos or videos of your possessions.
If your possessions are stolen or destroyed, a record of them simplifies the claim process. It also eliminates the stress of trying to remember exactly what you had when you’re already dealing with the anxiety of a fire or other loss.
An inventory is also a good way to ensure your current household insurance coverage is sufficient.
How to do an inventory
The job will take some time, especially if you are gathering up invoices and other records. Try doing just a room a day — you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish in a week of so.
If a paper record or Excel spreadsheet is your preference, the Insurance Bureau of Canada offers a free printable or digital checklist that includes separate entries for each room as well as space to record details of your home insurance policy and credit card information.
The bureau suggests you supplement the checklist with photos or a video of your valuable possessions.
If you prefer an electronic record, there are several apps — some free, some available for a nominal charge — that let you compile and store all the information, including photos of possessions, receipts and warranties, in a digital format.
This article on creating a home inventory includes links to several apps.
Once you’ve completed your inventory, keep it in a safe, off-site spot like a safety deposit box, with a friend or relative, or with a cloud service.
- If you renovate or make an addition to your home, there’s a good chance you’ll end up buying more furniture and other household goods. Remember to add them to your inventory.
- Update your home inventory and inform your insurer or broker if you make any major purchases such as valuable artwork or antiques. They may require special documentation or coverage.
- Bring your inventory up to date once a year by adding any new possessions and deleting objects you no longer own. Adding the update to your digital calendar ensures you don’t forget to do it.