How to prepare a home inventory

If your home was damaged by fire, or a burglar made off with your valuables, would you remember all the details of your possessions? If asked, could you recall your TV’s size and brand name? How about your camera or video camera? How about when you bought them and how much they cost?

If your belongings are stolen or destroyed, your insurance company will ask you to provide a record of them. Without an inventory, important details are sure to escape you. Add the trauma and stress of a major loss, and inevitably, you’ll forget items.

Save yourself time, money and frustration by planning ahead and completing a complete personal property inventory.

A complete inventory contains:

  • A detailed list of all your items with pertinent facts and descriptions
  • Receipts of your most valuable objects
  • A videotape or photographs of your home and contents
  • Current appraisals
  • Prepare your inventory by hand or on a computer. Several software packages are available for this purpose, or use a spreadsheet program and design your own. Include columns for name, description of the item, quantity, model and serial number, purchase date, where you bought it, original cost and estimated current value. If you like you can add a column for comments.

Use a camera or video camera to provide further proof of ownership and help document details of the item’s condition and size.

Video or photo from a wide angle to get the entire room to show the magnitude of loss, then zoom in on expensive items. Go room by room, also including outside areas such as a deck or shed and your garage.

If you use a video camera you can provide comments as you video your possessions.

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