Personal Finance

Don’t overlook the importance of a home inventory

If you want your insurance companty to pay for things like antiques, precious rugs and collectibles, Be sure to document them.
If you want your insurance companty to pay for things like antiques, precious rugs and collectibles, Be sure to document them. Courtesy photo

If your house burned to the ground tomorrow, would you be able to recite the entirety of its contents room-by-room for your insurance claim? I know I wouldn’t be able to.

People tend to fill up the living space they have with “stuff” and this is exponentially true when we become homeowners. We fill every nook and cranny with furniture, tools, clothes, toys, electronics and decorations.

Some of these items are valuable and some are not but if you had to replace ALL of them in one shot, the total price tag would be astronomical. If you find yourself in a claim situation, you’ll be devastated and overwhelmed and you may not actually know what is missing.

So what can you do about it?

These days, most people have a video-recording device no less than 3 feet away from them at any given moment. (Unless, of course, a toddler has confiscated it in which case the device is doomed!) We even sleep with smart phones right at our bedside. Use your phone to take quick videos of each room and narrate as necessary, noting specialty items and approximate values.

Don’t forget the closets. Replacing your wardrobe as well as handbags, jewelry and coats, can get extremely expensive.

Be sure to capture mirrors, decorations, furniture and custom built-ins. If you have one, film your storage area as well – mine is full of baby clothes, rarely used sporting equipment and other “stuff” that we just can’t bear to part with.

Basements can be a goldmine of toys, collectibles and electronics that add up in value. Even silverware and dishes can be expensive to replace. Be sure to go through your jewelry drawer or cabinet as well, making note of any special items.

If you come across something special like collector’s items, artwork or jewelry, reach out to your insurance agent and ask if you need special coverage.

Next is the garage: bikes, tools, grills, strollers, car seats and power wheels can really add up. I currently own strollers and cordless vacuum cleaners that are worth more than my first car.

Do an individual recording of each room and save it as a separate file. Title each video with the name of the room and the date of the recording. Store the videos in at least two places. Email it to yourself and save in an email folder titled “Insurance Stuff” or “Home Inventory.”

You’ll also want to have another copy saved in your Cloud account, on your phone (if you have enough storage available) or to a DVD or zip drive that you can store offsite or in a fireproof safe.

Too old school to do a video inventory? Grab a notepad and document each room by hand. Scan the documents and save them in your email as described above.

Maybe place the original list in your safe deposit box. There are also software and downloadable programs like StuffSafe and KnowYourStuff.org that can walk you through the process step by step.

Dealing with a home insurance claim can be a long, frustrating process. Not to mention the emotional pain and sadness of losing your possessions and the place you call home. Hopefully, you never have to deal with something like this but being prepared always makes things a little bit easier.

Jamie Bosse is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a Financial Planner at Aspyre Wealth Partners in Overland Park. She is a board member of the Financial Planning Association of Greater Kansas City and the author of the children’s book, “Milton the Money Savvy Pup: Brings Home the Bacon.”

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