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Inventory Your Household Contents for Protection and Insurance

Date Added: September 13, 2009 11:37:15 PM
Author: Sanida Richards
Category: Property Insurance

In the event of fires, flood, tornados, or hurricanes, having detailed documentation of your possessions can help you recover some of your lost items.  Most household possessions get only 50% coverage from the standard home owner policy.  If you have especially valuable things, make sure they don’t add up to more than 50 %.  If they do, get extra coverage.  Create a home inventory list by using a notebook, a video camera, or a digital camera, or all three, to document your home’s contents.


Living room:


  1. Photograph furniture, computers, and electronic equipment and make notes in detail when and where you made the purchase. Write down the makes and models.  Know what might the replacement would cost today.
  2. Group smaller items such as DVDs and CDs together and take picture.  Estimate how much you paid and when you bought them.
  3. Make note of any one-of-a-kind items or artwork.  Save any receipts you may have that would prove it’s’ worth.




  1. Record large pieces or valuable items.
  2. Photograph and list clothes, shoes, and handbags by type (10 pairs of jeans, 20 blouses, etc.)  List each piece separately if your clothes are vintage or designer.
  3. Underwear and socks may seem insignificant, but replacing them can be costly.
  4. Expensive jewelry should be recorded individually.  Appraisal forms for these pieces are important and should be kept in your notebook.




  1. Record large appliances’ make, model, and serial number (dishwasher, refrigerator, and stove) and small (coffeemaker, toaster) items.
  2. Catalog your everyday dishes, flatware, and stem ware.  Estimate how much, collectively, you paid for them.


Laundry room, Attic, and Basement: 


  1. Write down washer and dryer’s make and model numbers.
  2. Record any heirlooms and other valuable items that you have stored in the attic or basement.  Look for fine china, silverware, crystal, furniture or anything else of value that you have stowed away.




  1. Round up small tools and sport gears.  You can do a general estimation of their worth.
  2. Itemized power drill, lawn mower, and bicycles.  More valuable items should be recorded separately.


Safeguard Your Inventory:


  1. Keep your original notebook and pictures in a bank safe-deposit box.  If you want to make additional copies to keep at home, store them in a fireproof safe.
  2. Consider having a back up copy.  You might want to give the list and pictures to a family member or friend who lives in a different area that would not be affected by a major natural disaster such as tornados, hurricane, or flood.
  3. Update your home inventory list every time you make a big purchase.


How to estimate the value of your belongings:


  1. Read your home insurance policy carefully.  Some policies reimburse you for the original amount you paid for the item.  Others reimburse you only for what the items would cost today for most everyday items that isn’t antique or designers.
  2. Art prints made by specialist are more valuables than ones bought at a museum gift shop.  Get a professional appraisal for one-of-a-kind pieces like pottery or artistic ornaments.
  3. Use the internet for pricing.  If you lost the receipt for your television set, look on line for a similar model, print out the page and attached it to the inventory list.  The more documentation the better.


Tips to Determine Which Keepsakes are Worth Preserving:


  1. Weigh each item’s sentimental and financial value against your resource and desire to save it properly, from letters, to your child’s drawings, to heirloom furniture.  
  2. Once you’ve decided which of your keepsakes you want to save, list them in the notebook.  Write down why you value each object.  Enter all the factual information you have concerning each piece.  Everything you know about its history:  where did it come from? How much did it cost? Who made it? Who do you hope to give it to?  Save this paper in the same place you keep your other important legal papers.
  3. Remember that while you may like the sunlight and warm weather, your collectibles don’t.  Use common sense and avoid some of the worst threats to your most important possessions.


Store and Insure Your Valuable Jewelry Correctly:


  1. Highly valuable jewelry and fragile heirlooms should be locked up and insured.  Standard home owners and renters insurance policies limit the amount they’ll pay to replace stolen jewelry to $1,000 (whether it’s stolen from home or while you’re traveling, and most won’t cover jewelry that’s lost).  Check with your home owner agent about getting enough coverage for your valuables.
  2. If you store your fragile things in a safe deposit box, place them in a velvet tray (you can buy the tray at department stores), or each piece in its velvet or suede pouch.
  3. At home, lock up valuable items in a safe place.  You may want to keep them in a fireproof filing cabinet for extra protection.
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