How to Create a Home Inventory

You will never know when a disaster will strike but you can prepare for it. Before you are faced with a loss, create an up-to-date home inventory list of your belongings. Start by describing each item and writing down the make, model, serial number, value, and purchase date. If you have the sales receipts, or appraisals, keep them with your list. For clothing, count the items by category (shoes, pants, shirts, etc.) and then describe each item. I would make notes on those items that are especially of value.

Next, you need to ask yourself this question: Would you be able to remember all of your belongings in your home or apartment that you have collected over the years if they were stolen or damaged by a fire or other disaster? If the answer is no, this is where your Home Inventory will come in handy. To ease your mind and better prepare yourself in case of a loss, follow these 5 simple steps on how to create a home inventory:

• Don't Wait

If you have just moved into a new home or apartment, this is actually the best time to create your home inventory list. If you have been living in your home or apartment for a few years, creating the list may be a bit time consuming; however, it will be well worth it in the end. Start by going from room to room (doing one room at a time) and in each room, start with your recent purchases then remember what you can about your older items. Don’t forget items in your attic, basement, garage and any detached structures.

• Take Pictures

Take pictures of the rooms and items of value so there is a visual record of your belongings. If you printed your pictures, go through them and notate on the back of the pictures what is in the picture, where you bought it, and any other important information. If you used your phone or digital camera, I would suggest backing up those photos onto a CD and adding descriptions to those items if you can.

• Videotape

Take your video camera and walk through each room in your home or apartment and describe each item in those rooms. Be sure to open closets, drawers, cabinets, and describe what is in them; for example, in your dining room it would be important to say that you have 6 crystal wine glasses and mention where you bought them, when you purchased them.

• Keep it digital

If you have created your home inventory list on a piece of paper, it is important that you transfer your list to your computer or mobile device. Even if you are saving it on a flash-drive, transferring it into a mobile app, or web-based home inventory software, you are taking that extra step to keeping your inventory secure. Remember to back up all digital files. 

• Keep your home inventory list safe

It is important to keep a copy of your home inventory list, videotapes, pictures, and other important documentation in a secure location away from your home, such as a bank safety deposit box. If your home was to catch fire or to be destroyed, you would not want your home inventory list and documents to be lost. No matter which inventory method you choose, having your home inventory kept away from your home in a safe secure place allows you to access it whenever you need it.

Now that your home inventory list is completed, make sure you update your list as you make new purchases and get rid of your items. Always remember to keep proper documentation like credit card statements, receipts, appraisals, and other important documents. Pay close attention to your most valuable belongings such as jewelry, collectibles, art, antiques, and electronic equipment. Taking this extra step will give you the peace of mind knowing that you have your bases covered just in case the unexpected happens.


*While these are helpful tips, each situation is unique and should be examined on a case-by-case basis. For further information, please consult your insurance policy or discuss with your insurance agent.