The Benefits of a Home Inventory:

You never know when a disaster may strike—but you can be better prepared to file a claim after disaster with a home inventory.  As part of understanding your risk, understanding the assets exposed to loss is an important piece of the equation.  The benefits of a home inventory will also help accomplish quantifying your risk.

I have one for my primary residence, vacation home, and any rental properties of which I furnish or have other assets present.  Thus far, I haven’t needed to produce my inventory for purpose or proof of loss – but you never know.


Home inventories are invaluable for showing insurance companies what you lost in a break-in, fire, or any other covered catastrophe. They’re also quite handy for surveying and organizing your home.

A home inventory can help you with the following:

  • Buy the amount of insurance you need
  • Get your insurance claim settled faster
  • Verify losses for your income tax return
  • Keep track of all the things you’ve accumulated over the years

How to Start

There are many ways to create a home inventory.  There are 5 top tools to help with inventory management.  You can access free online software that makes creating and keeping a home inventory easy at

It may seem hard at first to record information about everything you have in your house or apartment, but don’t let that put you off.

First, decide on a way to make an inventory that works for you.

Once you have the tool that works for you, time to start.  You can do it room by room, category by category (furniture, electronics, etc.), from newest items to oldest or from most expensive purchases to less expensive ones.

Estimated Value

In addition to the list, it is important to include the associated or estimated value of the assets.

You can refer to the following suggestions to help create your inventories. Try to write a brief description of the item including when and where it was bought and its make or model number.

  • General Appliances (Televisions, Stereo equipment, Washer/Dryer, Air conditioners, Vacuum cleaner, Exercise equipment, etc.)
  • General Household (Carpet/rugs, Window treatments, Bookcases, Chairs, Lamps/light fixtures, Clocks, Collections (coin, stamp, etc.), Pictures/wall hangings)
  • Living Room (furniture, etc.)
  • Dining Room (Table, Chairs, China cabinet, China, Silverware, Crystal)
  • Bedrooms (Beds, Dressers/chests, Dressing tables, Night tables)
  • Clothing (including Furs, Suits, Jewelry)
  • Kitchen (Table, Chairs, Appliances, oven, dishwasher, refrigerator, oven, pots/pans, etc.)
  • Bathrooms
  • Home Office/Study/Den (furniture, computer, books, etc.)
  • Garage/Basement/Attic/Shed
  • Porch/Patio

Important Documents

It’s also important to keep a record of legal documents, such as birth certificates and passports, and financial documents, such as bank accounts and insurance policies.

You can also use your home inventory to record information about these papers, where they are located and saved. Its important to record insurance policy numbers, bank and investment account numbers along with and insurance policy contact information.  Most carriers have online platforms to access this information now, but hopefully you can at least remember who your home insurer is.

The use of the cloud is a great way to save important documents and not limit to the hard drive of your home computer.

Tips for Inventory lists

  • There are different ways to making your list. You can write everything down in a notebook or Excel workbook.
  • You can take pictures, writing information on the back of the photos or save the photos and/or information on your computer (please back it up on the cloud).
  • If you have a video camera, you can walk through your house filming and describing the contents at the same time.
  • Keep receipts when they are available and note the cost for the item, when you bought it and other information about the make and model.
  • Expensive items like jewelry and art work may need to be insured separately. Ask your insurance agent whether you need a floater for your homeowners policy.
  • Store a copy of your inventory in a safe place outside of your home—with a friend or in a safe deposit box.
  • Also, whenever you make a significant purchase, remember to update the information to your inventory while the details are fresh in your mind.

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Arnold Smith

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