Living in Louisiana, we all know about your basic emergency preparedness — getting food and water, and gas for your generator. Creating a home inventory is about preparing for emergencies in a different kind of way that you may not have previously thought about.

A home inventory is a detailed list of everything in your home, specifically any high-value items that could be destroyed in a natural disaster, a fire or stolen.

What are the Benefits of Having a Home Inventory?

A home inventory can actually aid law enforcement in helping you retrieve your items if they were ever stolen from your home.

There are also insurance benefits. It depends on what kind of replacement policy you have, as some insurance companies may want to see a list of everything you had/what’s missing before you can be reimbursed.

If you have to come up with this list right away, that’s just going to add to your stress and trauma. Having a home inventory on-hand will help get your claim processed faster, and it will help you verify your losses on your tax returns.

A home inventory can also be helpful when you’re shopping for homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If you have this list together, and you have estimated value of your things, you can better determine how much content coverage you’ll need. Maybe you’re currently under-insured, or you’re paying too much for insurance because you don’t have that amount of items in your home.

The Importance of Getting Appraisals

Getting the items in your home appraised will serve as a guide for your insurance policy. Appraisals are great for items that you may not have a receipt for, or for items that appreciate over time such as antiques, jewelry or collectibles.

Keep receipts and appraisals in a safe place, such as in a fire-proof safe. Also, always have a backup, which could be scanned copies stored on the cloud or in your email. You could also consider leaving copies with a trusted friend or family member that lives outside of your home, in case of an emergency.

What Items to Include in Your Home Inventory

Consider starting with big buckets of items, such as: electronics, appliances, furniture and décor, jewelry, artwork or high-value collections, and everything else (holiday décor, window treatments, books, tools, clothes, music instruments, exercise equipment).

Your inventory can include:

  • Purchased price
  • Purchased date
  • Serial numbers
  • Model numbers
  • Brand
  • Colors
  • Special markings (anything that could help identify your items from someone else’s)

This can be very overwhelming if you start to think about going around your home and cataloging it all, so just start with one category. What’s the most-expensive thing in your home? Jewelry? Electronics?

You can also just start with one category and set a goal to do one category a month, or even one category a year. Remember: anything is better than nothing.

Home Inventory Formatting Options

You may be wondering how to capture this information.  There is no wrong or right way.  Here is a list of some option you have.  Simply pick the one that works best for you!

  • Pencil and paper. Grab a pencil and a piece of paper and start writing things down. If you can’t find all of the information you need, that’s okay.
  • Checklist. There are downloadable checklists from insurance companies you can use to guide your home inventory process.
  • Spreadsheet. If you’re good with Excel, you can create a tab for each category. A spreadsheet would be easy to update, but there’s no real place to put pictures.
  • Photos. Go around your house and start taking pictures. Take a picture of the item and then the serial number/model number. With this method, you don’t have to write anything down and you can still break it up by room or by category. Pictures are important for things like jewelry because they don’t have serial or model numbers. Be sure to note any specific identifying markings such as engravings.

You may also consider taking pictures of your rooms as they are — including the walls and the floors. Being able to show what your home looked like before an emergency happened will be a valuable tool when you need it.

  • Video. Grab your phone or a camera and talk through your home, along with your receipts and appraisals. This method may not be as easy to update if you make a single, long video. Instead, do short mini videos so you only have to replace short clips as your inventory changes over time.
  • ReportIt. Law enforcement has a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) that allows law enforcement across the country to log items that someone has reported missing. Pawn shops are connected to it and they use model or a serial number to identify stolen goods. You can use ReportIt as a place to store your home inventory, including pictures and receipts. It’s a safe, secure, and free service. If something is pawned before you even know it’s stolen — such as out of your car or while you’re on vacation — you’ll get an email.
  • Apps. There are tons of apps that will help you complete a home inventory. Some include HomeZada, Home Manager, and Know Your Stuff Home Inventory. Just make sure you have the ability to export into Excel or a PDF in case that company disappears without notice.

Choose the method that works best for you, your home and your belongings. But no matter what format you choose, having a backup of all of this is really important.

It’s not recommended to store the backup on a USB drive because they are easy to lose, and they break. Instead, use the cloud, send yourself an email, or store it with someone you trust that lives outside of your home.

If this is something you need assistance with, this is a service that we offer. Feel free to give us a call (225.773.3548) and let’s start putting your home inventory together.