Making a list of all your belongings may seem a monumental task, which is what keeps many people from ever getting started. But it need not be overwhelming. The tips here can make the job more manageable:
Download our Personal Property Inventory List and print one copyu for each room. Inventory one room at a time. List every item in the room, its purchase price, the date of purchase (as close as you can remember) and where you purchased it (if you don’t have an actual record of the purchase, the store might).
- Use any accounts of your expenditures on file (old checks, receipts, or similar records) to help refresh your memory. If the item isn’t on that room’s list, either write it in at the bottom or look through the other pages in the inventory until you find it.
- Use a camera or videocamera to record what you own. Photograph your home systematically: Start with one wall of a room and take as many pictures as necessary to record everything along that wall, overlapping slightly. Move around the room clockwise. Remember to open closets and drawers and photograph what’s inside. Record the purchase prices and purchase dates of the items on the back of each photograph or on the Personal Property Inventory List.
- List all brand names, model numbers, and serial numbers for items that have them to help verify purchase dates and approximate replacement costs.
- If you use a personal computer, you might want to investigate the various software packages on the market for compiling a household inventory.
As you’re doing your inventory, think about items you own that may be in a temporary residence (like a college dormitory) or in your vehicle. Include these items in your inventory list — they are covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Your personal property is covered anywhere in the world under your normal policy.
Once you have completed your inventory, keep it, receipts, and any photos or videos you have produced in a safe place outside of your house (so it doesn’t disappear if you face a loss!). A safe deposit box is one good spot. Make a photocopy of your inventory to keep at home so that you can update it as you buy new items. Make sure you have enough insurance to cover these new items.