Thursday, July 30, 2009

Protect Your Investments with a Household Inventory

We learned the hard way the benefits of having a household inventory. Years ago my husband and I returned home from work and found our home had been broken into. Anger, feelings of violation, disappointment in our fellow man and anxiety followed–the usual gamut of emotions. Our bedroom was such a mess with clothing and personal possessions strewn about that it took us quite a while to determine what was missing: an antique handgun that had been in my husband’s family, and two pieces of jewelry.

A household inventory can save you big money--and headaches--should tragedy strike, such as theft, fire, or other disasters. An inventory will help you keep track of everything you own, documenting your losses, and assist you in determining the cash value of your possessions. Also, a household inventory is valuable when establishing the value of your personal property for insurance purposes.

The aftermath of a disaster is confusing and frustrating enough without trying to recall the particulars of your possessions. For items destroyed in fire or flood, a household inventory will help you remember what you had. Insurance adjustments are expedited more efficiently when information can be gathered from current documentation.

Creating a complete and accurate inventory is easier than ever with tools most of us already have. Here are some pointers:
– Create a spreadsheet or table that lists every room in the house. Don’t forget the garage and items in your cars.
– Calculate the value of each item, date acquired and the cost. When appropriate, list serial numbers, particularly for electronic equipment, household appliances, etc.
– Calculate the total for each room and the grand total of your home’s contents. This is valuable information for establishing an insurance claim.
– Take video with commentary or digital images of items of worth–jewelry, appliances, electronics, etc. Pictures help to determine the full magnitude of your loss. Take pictures of entire rooms in addition to individual items. When possible, take close-ups of the model number/serial number label.
– Print out a copy and keep it, together with the pictures, in a safe place, but keep the original file on your computer so that it can easily be updated. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of the inventory someplace other than your home–perhaps at work or at a family member’s home.

When possible, engrave your driver’s license number and your state’s abbreviation on as many items as you can–especially electronics and appliances--to ensure a greater chance of recovery of stolen items. This is especially true with today’s law enforcement computer networks. Engraved items are more difficult to sell; therefore, marked items lose their appeal to thieves.

Your inventory will also help you establish how much insurance coverage is right for you, and identify any items not covered by basic insurance that may need a special endorsement or rider to your policy.

Over the years, you have invested in your home and possessions. When you add up all the personal items, furniture, and appliances you own, you will probably be amazed to find how much money is involved. Should you suffer a loss, time spent today in making a household inventory can be crucial in safeguarding a speedy recovery.

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1 comment:

Gwyn Ramsey said...


What great advice. Thanks for the heads-up on this. We actually had to use some of your ideas when Charley hit back in 2004. It made it easier working with the insurance company.

Gwyn Ramsey