Like many others, this month’s column is inspired by a client who called me for advice. This client was sitting at her kitchen table when she heard dripping, then gushing water from her ceiling and down her walls. At first it didn’t seem real, but she immediately discovered that it was indeed real and that the washing machine in the condo above her had overflowed. Water was running down into her unit and a nightmare began.
As someone who had joy in collecting many family heirlooms and other fine antiques, imagine her horror when her prized possessions were being rained upon indoors and she realized that she had no home inventory to reference for her potential loss! A home inventory, as the name would suggest, is a list of all of a homeowner’s possessions kept inside the house. At first thought, taking record of almost everything you own may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on.
WHY YOU NEED AN INVENTORY – By making a home inventory, you are protecting yourself in the event that homeowner’s or renter’s insurance needs to be used. If your property is damaged by a natural disaster or your home is burglarized, having a home inventory handy will speed up your insurance claim and maximize your payout because your belongings are already accounted for. The same is true if you need to file a claim under your home warranty. Your claims process will typically be much easier and go much smoother if you have an updated record of your appliances with the make, model and year.
HOW TO MAKE A HOME INVENTORY – Making a home inventory in 2023 is easy thanks to all of the technology available. If you have a smart phone, the simplest way is to download a mobile home inventory app and snap photos to upload to the app. Taking a long video walking through your home is also sufficient. For you old-school homeowners, you can make a written list— just be sure to describe each item in detail including when you acquired it and the estimated value.
Once you’ve determined how you will compile your list, focus on how you will organize it. Many homeowners categorize their belongings either by room or by item category. For example, you can break up your list by living room, dining room, kitchen, etc. Or, you can itemize things like technology, furniture, jewelry, and so on. There’s no “correct” approach here. Simply organize in a way that makes sense to you.
KEEP IT FRESH – Now that you have your home inventory ready and all of your belongings accounted for, remember to keep it updated. An inaccurate or incomplete list is not much good to you as a homeowner, or to your insurance agency. Remember, it’s always easier to add an item or two to an existing list, rather than adding dozens at a time after items have accumulated. Hopefully, you will never actually need this, but you will be happy to have it if/when you do!