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     How To Conduct A Home Inventory

Here's a quick quiz:
  • Name the BRAND and model of the television(s) in your house or apartment.
  • How much did your computer COST, and where did you purchase it?
  • What is the SERIAL number on your camera?
Could you answer those questions without looking? Now imagine how difficult it would be to come up with this information for ALL of your belongings while dealing with the stress of a fire, burglary, or natural disaster. In such a case, you may spend countless hours trying to remember everything only to realize what you forgot after your claim has been processed. You might not even be able to produce the required proof for the claim to be accepted.

In the unfortunate event of a major loss, your insurance company will need a lot of information to PROCESS your claim. If you’ve already created a home inventory, this process will be much easier and should be completed faster. Otherwise, you might not be able to account for everything, and if you’re unable to provide the required information, you may receive less than full COMPENSATION for your loss. Also, depending on your situation and the tax laws where you live, this information may also be required for a tax credit. And finally, if you file a police report for stolen items, having the model number and serial number will improve your odds for RECOVERING the stolen property.

Although you could PAY a service company to come in to your house to conduct a home inventory, many people do it THEMSELVES using either a home inventory booklet, or a software program for recording their home inventory. Some people also include photographs, digital pictures, or video tape. Whichever you decide, you’re going to need to record the following information about each item:
  • DESCRIPTION of the item -- what color and size, any special features, etc.

  • brand and MODEL -- the company that made it, style, and model number are most helpful

  • SERIAL number -- you will usually find this either etched into the back of the product or on a small metal plate

  • CONDITION -- is it good or poor, like new, slightly used, or very worn?

In addition, you’ll need to record information about the VALUE of each item. Depending on whether your insurance company pays claims based on "replacement value" or "current value", you’ll need to record details such as:
  • purchase PRICE
  • current VALUE
  • when and where PURCHASED
To provide as much information as possible, you should also take PHOTOGRAPHS or videotape to document the existence and condition of the items in your home inventory. Note that some of the software programs have a feature to allow you to import your digital photos to store the picture with each item. These programs typically allow you to save your data on a backup disk and/or print a report for safe keeping in a safe-deposit box, your work place, or a friend’s house.

Now that you know what you need, here’s how to get started:
  • SYSTEMATICALLY go through your house or apartment one room at a time -- you might be tempted to SKIP from one room to the next recording the “high dollar” items only, but remember that the "little items" really add up and might be the most difficult to remember

  • LIST down each item in the room, including the contents of desks, drawers, closets, etc.

  • describe each item as COMPLETELY as possible, recording all the details as discussed in the previous section

  • when you’ve finished all the rooms in your house, don’t forget the garage, patio, OUTSIDE buildings, etc.

Okay, so after you’ve completed your home inventory you know what you have and how much it’s worth. Great! Now review your home insurance POLICY. Are you over insured? Under insured? Perhaps for the first time, you can answer this question easily by comparing your policy amount to the total VALUE of your household items.

Remember, if you store your home inventory list in your home, it could be DESTROYED along with your belongings. Whether your home inventory consists of a written list, diskette, cd-rom, paper report, photographs, or whatever, be sure to store it in a safe place -- preferably in another LOCATION such as at your work place, a friend’s house, or in a safe-deposit box.

Perhaps you’ve been reading this article and thinking about creating your own home inventory. Get started now while it’s FRESH in your mind! If you have just moved into an apartment or house, starting your home inventory may be an easy task. This is a great time to begin organizing your home inventory. If you’ve been living in your house for awhile, however, you may have a lot of work to do. Now is the time to start! Plan to inventory at least one room in your house this week, and continue one room at a time until you’re done.


Kevin Sparks is the developer of the "Home Manager Software" which is available directly through www.OnlineOrganizing.com. You may contact him at .

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