How to Make a Household Inventory List
The best time to start on your inventory list is right now. It doesn’t have to be complicated. There are lots of apps and printable worksheets available online to help, but the easiest way to get started is by just walking through your home and shooting a video. The video by itself won’t be enough to prove your losses if you have an insurance claim, but you can use the video as an easy reference to make an itemized written list.
Start by taking a video of every room in your house, one room at a time. Open drawers and closets and peer into bookcases. Record all the contents in a way that lets you see what’s inside when you rewatch the video. Film your liquor cabinet, linens, wine cellar, art, collections, electronic equipment, and jewelry box. Leave no stone unturned. You can make this easier by making smaller videos covering sections of each room or grouping items together then watching them one at a time to make your written list.
For small items like cutlery, silverware, glassware, and dishes, it’s usually okay to estimate the number of each item you have—for example, “12 place settings” instead of meticulously counting each item.
Find the receipts for larger items and take photos or videos of those, too. Take the time to write down the serial number for items like electronics, firearms, and appliances. Cover the contents of your freezer or pantry if you stockpile food—if you document those losses, you can get assistance from your insurer if a power outage destroys your food. And don’t forget the components of the room itself. If you have built-in shelving or nice finishes, capture those so that you have proof of what you lost if something happens.
Finally, head outside and document the contents of your garage, shed, or other outbuildings. You don’t want to have to pay out of pocket if a storm destroys your lawnmower, for example.
With these photos and videos in hand, you can make your written home inventory list of your personal belongings. It should contain as much of this information for each item as possible:
Description of the item
Makes, model numbers, and serial numbers
Appraisal value or cost when you purchased it
Where you bought the item
Date of purchase
Sales receipts or photo of receipts, if possible
Estimated replacement cost if you bought it again today
Does your home include antiques or anything irreplaceable? Talk to your insurance agent to find out how to itemize those and how they will be covered in a claim—or whether they’ll be covered at all. You may need extra coverage for them.
This is also a good time to find out whether your insurance company pays replacement cost or actual cash value in the event of a loss. If your insurance company doesn’t pay replacement cost, think about increasing your coverage or finding another insurer —you don’t want any nasty surprises when a claim happens.