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The 7 Basics of Building a Home Inventory

A Home Inventory is a necessary tool to use in tracking your possessions and determining values for your home and contents. A home inventory can take the stress out of filing a claim and figuring out what is missing after a covered loss of fire, theft or other claim.

Protecting the important stuff inside your home begins with an understanding what you have. If you’re like many people, you may find your home contains much more personal property than you realize.

To understand how much stuff you have, develop a careful inventory of your personal property following these 7 simple home inventory basics:

  • Store your inventory offsite & include backups. Home inventory lists can be kept on computers, in notebooks, or in online databases. If your inventory is created on a computer, it’s best to keep a hard copy of it in a fireproof safe or in a location away from the house such as an office or relative’s house. There are many apps and online versions of home inventories available through trusted sites. With so many ways to create and store a home inventory, it's important to pick the way that works best for your family. The Insurance Information Institute has a FREE online tool that can help you create your inventory. Just visit for more details. Safeco Insurance has also developed a free Home Inventory App to make it easy to catalog your possessions with photos and descriptions using an IPhone or Ipad app here:
  • Organize inventory based on rooms where possessions are kept: Keep lists for the kitchen, bedrooms, media rooms, living room, game rooms, etc., until you’ve covered your house. Breaking up the inventory by rooms can make the task less daunting and can help keep managing the lists easy when items are added, sold, or given away.
  • Include photos and/or video:Perhaps the easiest and most useful tool in a home inventory is to include photos of each room. Photos show what’s in a room and what condition everything is in.Use a video camera to record and audibly describe items as you move through your home. If you don’t have access to a video camera, use a standard camera or phone camera.
  • Include descriptions: Where possible, include brand names and descriptions of items, especially on high-cost items.
  • Include appraisals, receipts and values:Keep any and all receipts on high-dollar purchases. Keep these receipts filed together with any instruction booklets, warranties, etc. that accompany the items. These documents are especially important if the item is listed on a floater on your insurance policy. Items such as jewelry or valuable collections may require additional coverage on your homeowners policy.
  • Keep it Updated!Update your personal property records when you purchase new furnishings and valuables.
  • Review the numbers.Your belongings are considered personal property on your insurance policy and if they are lost, stolen or destroyed as a result of a covered loss, having a home inventory and knowing the value of your possessions can help make sure you have enough insurance to replace them. Once you’ve compiled your inventory, take a look at what you have and compare that to the amount of coverage you have for personal property on your homeowners insurance to make sure you have adequate coverage.

While we hope that you'll never need to use your home inventory, preparing for the worst can prevent a big headache and hassle later!