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Keep & Update Your Home Inventory

Posted By Jim On 09/14/2009 @ 7:08 am In Insurance | 10 Comments

Do you keep a home inventory? When was the last time you update it? If the answer was “no” or “last year,” it’s time you thought about keeping or updating your home inventory. Without it, you could be spending lots of valuable time trying to remember, and prove, the things in your home if you ever are the victim of a burglary, Mother Nature, or bad luck.

The purpose of a home inventory is to document the personal property in your apartment or home so that, in the event of a loss, you can expedite the recovery process with your insurance company. It also can give you an idea of how much insurance to purchase, where too much can be as bad as too little insurance.

Your Home Inventory

There are many ways to keep and maintain a home inventory but they all need to satisfy certain conditions:

  • What the item is – make and model information.
  • When you bought it – to figure out the present value of the item.
  • How much you bought it for – include the receipt if possible, this knocks out the “when” question too.

You decide how much information to collect. The more information have, the better. You can decide to only retain detailed information on the more valuable items, say $100 and up. It’s a decision for you to make but if you want to claim something, either on an insurance form or as a loss on your income tax return, you will need this information.

How to Store Your Inventory

How you keep and maintain your home inventory is up to personal preference, but here are a few options:
Video: The easiest way to maintain complete a home inventory is walk around your apartment or house and take a video of all the rooms. I find it’s easiest to take one video per room. This lets you give an individual name to each video file, rather than trying to figure out at what time you enter each room.

Make sure you highlight anything of value in the room (for me, it’s anything worth more than $100) by pointing it out and saying what it is. I own a Flip Mino handheld video camera [3] so I used that. If you don’t have a video camera, your digital camera probably has a video record feature.

Photos: If you don’t want to or cannot take a video inventory, photos are probably even better because the resolution is sharper. Take a picture of the entire room and then a closeup of each item of value. Write the make, model, and other salient details on the back of the photo (or in the filename if it’s digital). Then organize the pictures by room with folders for the kitchen, the master bedroom, the living room, etc.

Home Inventory Software: In addition to video and photos, you can use software to help track your property. Some people prefer something simple like Microsoft Excel. Others download special programs that let you link up products with your photographs. Use whatever you feel most comfortable.

Update It

Finally, remember to update it at least once every six months, once a quarter if you feel ambitious. You can also update it as needed, such as after a big purchase. It’s a question of balancing your time and the detail of your inventory. The more detail you have, the better, but you may not want to spend hours a day on home inventory upkeep.

If you have a home inventory strategy you use that differs from this one, or particular insight I’ve missed, please let us all know in the comments!

(Photo: fleur-design [4])


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[3] Flip Mino handheld video camera: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/r/amazon.php?asin=B0016BXRB6

[4] fleur-design: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fleur-design/1394346975/sizes/m/

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