Face it–you have a lot of stuff. So much that if you tried to list everything you own from memory, you’d probably forget most of what you have. (Do you know how many pieces of clothing are in your closets and drawers? Can you list everything in the medicine chest? How about all those holiday decorations in the attic?)
But trying to remember a houseful of stuff is exactly what people face when they file an insurance claim after their home has been destroyed in a fire or natural disaster. Without a household inventory, it’s all but impossible to remember everything or even most things.
United Policyholders, a non-profit group that educates consumers about insurance issues and their rights, offers a lot of good tips and resources to help you get started on your inventory:
- Create a room-by-room inventory in Excel. UP provides an Excel sheet that lists items found in the typical home so you don’t have to start from scratch.
- Fill out a sample home inventory from a total loss insurance claim.
- Build your inventory with a flash drive that’s preloaded with the inventory spreadsheet. This was created with help from disaster victims who struggled to remember the contents of their home after it was damaged. (UP does request a $10 donation for the flash drive)
- Walk around your home with a video camera, talking about the items as you film. (Store the clip/chip/tape outside your home in a secure location, preferably in another area or state.)
- Pay an inventory specialist to do the work for you. Inventory specialists charge either by the hour or for the project. Some will store the data for you. Others will give you the disk or inventory list to store yourself. Visit the FIND HELP section on UP’s Web site by CLICKING HERE.
To access UP’s links to the Excel spreadsheets and other inventory tips, CLICK HERE.
Also, make sure you’ve got your disaster/home insurance in order. Not sure? Check out some of my previous columns:
- Do you need disaster insurance?
- 10 things your insurance may not cover
- Is your home underinsured? 8 key points