How to Properly Document Your Possessions for Insurance

March 21, 2018

You can buy all of the insurance you want, but when it comes time for a claim, you have to be able to prove you owned certain possessions. How do you do this? You can do it with a properly documented home inventory. Each insurance company has their own requirements, but we’ll cover the general ways to document what you own. This way if you do have to file a claim, you won’t find yourself scrambling to prove you owned something that experienced a loss.

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Gather Your Receipts

If you have the receipts of any possessions you recently acquired, store them in a safe place. We recommend scanning them and keeping them in a file on your computer. This way you don’t have to worry about fire or water damage wiping them out. Make sure the receipt has the date and that you write what the item is on the receipt. This will help prove ownership of the item to the insurance company.

Start a Home Inventory Spreadsheet

The more you have in writing, the better off you’ll be if you have to make a claim. Start a simple spreadsheet and start listing everything that you own of value. You’ll want to mark down the item name, the approximate date of purchase, and the estimated value. If you have serial numbers or model numbers, make note of those as well.

Take Pictures

With your smartphone, digital camera, or film camera, start taking pictures of your valuable items. These pictures will help supplement your receipts and home inventory checklist. Make sure you take separate pictures of each item and that they are very clear. The picture should indicate that the items are in your home as well. On the picture, you can document the name of the item (if it’s not obvious), as well as the serial or model number of the item.

Take Videos

If you want to take it a step further, consider taking videos of the items in your home. It doesn’t have to be anything formal. Just go from one end of your home to the other, carefully showing each item, pausing on each one. Talk into the microphone describing the item, it’s value, and even reading any numbers that are associated with it.

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Get Appraisals

If you have very expensive items in the home, you’ll want to take it one step further. Getting a professional appraisal will help make sure you get what the item is worth if something happens to it. Keep in mind, if the item is worth too much, you may need to take out a separate rider for it. Each homeowner’s insurance policy limits the amount of personal possessions you can insure without taking out a separate rider.

Send Everything to Your Insurance Agent

Once you properly document all of your possessions, you should send the lists and other supporting evidence to your insurance agent. This way he has a copy if something were to happen. You should also have your own copy, though.

You can store it in your safety deposit box or scan it and store it on your computer. We also recommend backing it up in the cloud or keeping a separate memory stick with the items on it. This way you have several ways to gain access to the lists should something happen.

Consistently Update Your List of Possessions

It’s a good idea to update your list of possessions every few years. Of course, you should do it sooner if you purchase something of value in the meantime. This way your list is always up-to-date, allowing you to have the most coverage should something happen to your home.

You can’t ever be too careful when it comes to protecting your home. You cannot predict when something might happen. You’d rather be safe rather than sorry when it comes to getting reimbursement for damages to your home. Keeping a careful inventory of your possessions is one of the best ways to make sure you are covered.

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