Many people go through their lives never having something awful happen and unprepared for an emergency that could be just around the corner. This is why, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissions (NAIC), “70% of homeowners do not have a home inventory”. This is a staggering number. So much so that many don’t ever consider having an inventory.

The reason may be because most people don’t really understand what a home inventory is and why they might need one.  According to the Today’s Homeowner, “a home inventory is a comprehensive report which includes detailed descriptions and photos of the personal property in and around your home”. Think of it as another form of insurance. The time to think about getting one is before you actually need one.

The Need for a Home Inventory

Most of us go through life not really worrying about whether something bad is going to happen. But on any given day you when you look at the news you see devastating events happening to people all over the country. It could be fires destroying homes, or floods decimating neighborhoods and even earthquakes. However, we never think it is going to happen to us. It’s always someone else until it’s not. It might be time to think about creating a home inventory before it’s too late. Here’s a few reasons why you should consider having a home inventory.

  • To protect your investments – Before insuring your personal belongings, it would be wise to contact a professional to do an accurate home inventory. This will you a detailed list of what you own so that you can get sufficient coverage. Knowing that you the right amount of coverage will give you peace of mind should you ever need to file a claim.
  • Preserving a family legacy – Over time things of value, be they monetary or sentimental, can get lost as they are passed from generation to generation. With a detailed home inventory, you can keep track of what item is where which makes things a lot easier. The home inventory is also very helpful when deciding beneficiary designation.
  • Estate planning – Do you want to determine your net worth? Knowing just how much you weigh financially is an important thing for some and a practical thing for others. If that’s the case, having a home inventory is the simplest way to know just how much all of your possessions are worth.
  • Moving – Things can sometimes get lost or broken during a move. It may not happen often but it does happen. A home inventory is a good way to have some kind of security if this should happen. It helps to get the right amount of insurance. The free insurance most moving companies offer covers next to nothing (literally pennies on the dollar) and you want to make sure you have enough coverage just in case the truck with your all of your stuff just happens to fall into the ocean or is abducted by aliens.
  • Legal issues (such as a divorce or an unexpected death) – While no one wants to think about these things, they are sometimes a part of life. It is always better to be legally prepared in such a situation then to drag the already uncomfortable and dismal situation out even further. This way things can be resolved professionally and calmly.
  • Peace of mind – According to the Emergency Preparedness Magazine, “only 17% of people were prepared for an emergency”, while the Insurance Institute states that “every state is affected by some form of catastrophe”. That means that the 83% of those that are not prepared will have a hard time of it when an emergency occurs. Having an inventory will let you to sleep better knowing that even if your belongings were lost in a flood/tornado/hurricane/fire/earthquake, you will still know what you lost, how much money you need to cover the damage and whether the insurance will cover it.

Home Inventory Apps

While you can certainly create your own home inventory list for insurance in an Excel spreadsheet, there are many apps that make the process much easier. The good thing about apps is that they do the majority of the work for you. They have already created places for you to input the necessary information. Why reinvent the wheel when the current wheel is working so well? For starters, HomeZada is a user-friendly app where you can create a home inventory as well as a home maintenance program. You can include pictures, where the item was purchased, price when purchased, serial numbers, what room the item is in, descriptions and much more. You are able to document very comprehensive information about your items. It’s always best to have as much information as possible if you are needing to file a claim.

Of course, there are numerous other apps that you can use that will do the same thing. There’s Sortly, Nest Egg and MyStuff just to name a few and there are countless others. These are all great programs. Most of the time we choose something that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and what we find is easy to use. Take a look at a few of them and even try them out. Most will have a free trial. From there you will be able to make an educated decision. It’s just a matter of what works for you and honestly just personal preference.

Plan Of Attack

So you are finally ready to create that home inventory. You are no longer putting it off and today is the day. How to do a house inventory you say? The answer depends. On what you ask? How to do a house inventory will depend on how extensive and inclusive you want it to be. Maybe you just want to document all the large ticket items in your home or maybe you want to document everything. Determining this first will set the tone for everything. Regardless of whether you are using an app or creating your own excel spreadsheet, start in one room and start taking your pictures. Document as much information as you can about the item including where purchased, original cost, material, serial numbers if applicable, brand, etc. If possible, you should include the original receipt. If you keep your home inventory by room it will be much more organized. Continue the same process in the next room and then the next.

Storing Your Home Inventory List

It’s done. Finally! After all this time thinking about it you have finally done it. Now the questions become how do I protect it and where do I store it. If you used one of the apps it is obviously in the cloud somewhere. Some of the apps allow you to download the home inventory checklist to your computer. If this is a possibility, I would remember to update the downloaded copy when you update the home inventory. I would also put it on a hard drive or memory stick and keep it wherever you keep your important documents – a safe, safety deposit box, etc.

My recommendation is basically the same if you created your home inventory checklist on an Excel spreadsheet. Save it to a memory stick or hard drive and keep it with your important docs. Now you are prepared in the event that you need to be.

Once a disaster strikes and you are beyond stressed it is very hard to remember not only what to do but what you owned. You do not have to try and remember everything if it’s stored in your head when you can have a detailed home inventory. The bottom line is you do not want to be one of those people who have the “if only” syndrome which is also called “hindsight”. Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t have regrets and think about what you should have done. Have your peace of mind before a disaster strikes. Do it yourself or hire a professional like Organize2Harmonize. Just be sure to think ahead.

How to Do a Home Inventory

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