Take time to do a home inventory of all of your personal property now, rather than later. A home inventory is a comprehensive report detailing your personal property with descriptions and photos. Not only will it give you a good chance to clean out some clutter but it is considered a key component to settling and documenting insurance claims in case of emergencies where loss is incurred. This ultimately saves you a ton of hassle in that instance and is valuable for estate and financial planning.
Why is a Home Inventory Important
Can you provide a detailed list of everything you own, when you purchased those items, the cost, make, model, and serial numbers? If not, a home inventory helps ensure you are sufficiently prepared to deal with potential losses and that your insurance covers you appropriately. In order to file an insurance claim for lost, damaged, stolen, or destroyed items, a detailed list of those items is required for a smooth and maximized reimbursement. Remember that documented proof of ownership to receive a settlement is the responsibility of the policyholder.
Home Inventory Benefits
By completing a comprehensive home inventory you ensure you:
- Have the necessary amounts of insurance coverage for items that have limited coverage such as antiques, artwork, coins, jewelry, and silverware. If needed, you can make a decision to purchase additional coverage to insure those items up to their full value.
- Evaluate whether to insure your property and contents at “replacement cost” or “actual cash value.” Replacement cost is the amount it takes to replace or repair your home and possessions with materials of similar quality. Actual cash value is a lower amount that consists of replacement cost less depreciation.
- Get a higher appraisal for your home. By documenting home improvement projects that add value to your home, you provide proof when it comes time to settling a claim.
- Verify the value and condition of your assets before placing them in storage in case of loss, damage or theft.
The Information to Include on an Inventory Report
Include the following information on your home inventory report:
- Serial number
- Purchase date
- Photo and video footage
- Heir designation
- Estimated or appraised replacement value
- Scans of receipts and important documents
Compiling Your Home Inventory
It also requires the proper equipment (scanner, camcorder, and camera) and software to create a detailed and comprehensive inventory that will be accepted by the insurance company. So how do you compile your home inventory?
Hire an Inventory Specialist
While you can create your own home inventory, it is often put off or partially completed since it requires a substantial investment in time. Therefore, you can save time and energy by hiring a reputable company to compile a home inventory for you. Inventory specialists have the proper equipment and documenting know-how to make sure you get the most out of an inventory and provide you with:
- Security: Data from your inventory is encrypted and stored at a back-up facility – ensuring security should your copies be lost or destroyed.
- Information: Complete and detailed information for each item—including photos and scans of receipts—is compiled to assist in claims or probate. Video footage is also taken to support ownership of property.
- Time: The inventory can be taken and compiled within one week. Faster when the professionals know the process and have a routine in place rather than spending time trying to learn the process yourself.
- Expense: Hiring an inventory service is affordable and is money well spent when damage, theft, or death occurs.
- Credibility: Using an inventory specialist lends credibility.
Choosing an Inventory Specialist
Some things to make sure your inventory specialist offers when hiring one:
- A signed contract that guarantees your information will be kept confidential and secure.
- A detailed list defining what is to be inventoried and how the information will be delivered and secured.
- Any information pertaining to a renewal policy and the details about updating your inventory.
- Review a sample inventory portfolio so you can see what you will be receiving.
- He/she is available to allow you to ask any questions you may have concerning what will be provided.
Home Inventory in Estate and Financial Planning
A home inventory also acts as a valuable resource and supplement for wills, trusts, or other legal documents:
Lastly, Keep Your Home Inventory Secure
Once the inventory is completed, ensure you store the information in a safe location away from your home. Safety deposit boxes on a printed report, CD, or data storage device, with your insurance agent or lawyer, or uploaded with a secure data backup provider are all great places to ensure your data is protected once the inventory is complete.
If you would like to discuss this post, or if you are looking for homeowners insurance feel free to call us at 904-224-7000.
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