the living room of someone who's about to take a home inventory in California

Creating a Home Inventory

Whether you live in a small apartment or a sprawling estate you probably own more than you realize.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a home inventory and how to go about creating one for your apartment, condo, house, or rental property.

Why Create a Home Inventory?

Here are just a few of the most powerful reasons for preparing a home inventory:

  • Determines coverage amount and insurance type – You provide your local California insurance agent with the information they need to match your policy to your needs.
  • Simplifies the claims process – Your insurer has the documentation they need to settle your claim quickly.
  • You can’t remember what you own after a loss – If you have a fire or someone robs you, you’ll be too stressed and too busy to remember what you’ve lost.
  • You only realize something’s gone when you look for it later – You own things you don’t use regularly.
  • You underestimate the worth – When you list what you own it is usually worth much more than you realize.
  • You receive the “replacement cost” you deserve – If you’re paying for replacement cost insurance, the insurer has the information they need to replace the lost item with one of the same quality and kind.

Creating a Home Inventory

A home inventory is basically a list of the things you own along with images and their estimated value. Since most people own many items, it makes sense to use home inventory apps to record the information.

Three of the top apps are Sortly for iOS, Encircle for iOS & Android, and Magic Home inventory for Android only. They work on the desktop, too. Alternatively, you can always use a simple piece of paper or a spreadsheet – as long as you multiple copies saved in a secure location.

Tackle one small area, take your time, use specific descriptions, and take photos or videos of items including their serial numbers if they have them. If you have receipts, photograph them or store them in a folder.

The basement, deck, attic, crawlspace, garage, shed, carport, or storage lockers are often overlooked. Don’t forget about items off-premises or loaned to others either.

Once you have your list, it’s time to establish value. Apps really prove their worth here, since they’ll search the internet for comparable items. Alternatively, you can look on eBay or Craigslist for unusual or old items.

If you don’t have a receipt for high-ticket items, you will probably need an appraisal. Jewelry, antiques, collectibles, fine art, or expensive computer equipment, musical equipment, photography equipment, or sporting equipment are just a few of the items that benefit from an accurate value and specialized insurance.

Keep a Copy Outside of Your Home

Home inventory apps store a copy of your inventory and photographs in the cloud. If you decide to use paper, store a copy with your receipts with a friend or relative, or put it in your safety deposit box. If you use a spreadsheet, store it in the cloud.

Regularly Update

Create an electronic or paper folder to store receipts for new items. Update your inventory before your annual renewal time. An annual insurance review aligns your coverage with your needs. Your agent will not only look at your inventory, but check your policy limits to ensure they adequately protect your home and particular items.

Don’t dismiss a home inventory because you think it’s too much work. Creating a home inventory might take a bit of time, but it pays for itself by matching coverage to your needs, minimizing costs, and simplifying the claims process.