If your home was destroyed in a fire, would you be able to provide the insurance company with a list of everything that was inside? Could you tell them the exact TV model that you owned and how many pairs of jeans were in your closet? Could you recall the purchase price of your microwave and that area rug that you bought two years ago?
If not, you need to put together a personal property inventory – and fast.
A personal property inventory will help you to:
Ready to get started on your inventory? Let’s begin!
To complete your personal property inventory you will need to create/obtain:
Sound like a lot of work? Then, let’s break it up into simple steps.
Pick one room of your house to start with – the living room, the kitchen, the master bedroom, whatever room you want, and make a detailed list of every item contained within the room. Include furniture and electronics, certainly; but also include smaller items like books, clothes and knick-knacks. If you own it, you need to have a record of it.
Each entry on your inventory list should include:
Create your inventory list on a piece of paper, in a computer spreadsheet, or download a form from the Internet. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has an inventory list that you can print and use, and there are many others on the web to choose from. (with "inventory list" linked to: http://www.naic.org/documents/index_disaster_section_inventory_checklist.pdf)
If you ever have to file an insurance claim, your insurance company will expect you to provide them with proof of purchase price for all big-ticket items – and that makes receipts an important part of your personal property inventory.
Spend some time gathering receipts for all of the expensive items that you own. It may take some effort, but it’s certainly worth it.
Some items that you’ll want receipts for:
Some items like jewelry and antiques are difficult to put a price on. If your lucky enough to own such rare or one-of-a-kind items, consider getting them appraised, so you’ll know (and have proof of) their fair market value.
Items you should consider having appraised:
A list of your belongings is good, but visual documentation is even better. Take pictures or video footage of your most valuable belongings. Then, take a few shots of each room in your house to fully document what you have and where you have it.
Have you completed steps one through four? If so, congratulations; your personal property inventory is complete! Now the only thing left to do is to store it in a safe place. My advice: store a copy in your house, another copy in a safe deposit box or the home of a trusted family member, and yet another copy with your insurance company. When it comes to your personal property inventory, it pays to have duplicates and triplicates.
A Final Thought: Your personal property inventory needs to be updated from time to time in order to stay current. Get in the habit of updating your inventory once a year or any time you make a significant purchase.