Conducting a home inventory

You may think you know exactly what's in your home, but accurately listing and valuing your personal property from memory may be harder than you think. And it's important to have these details when you file an insurance claim.

In times of stress, your memory is often a poor substitute for having a complete list. Items tucked away in drawers, boxes and storage cabinets—which could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars—are often forgotten. Allied Homeowners Insurance recommends you conduct a home inventory annually.

Put it on paper

The best way to protect yourself and your property is to complete a thorough home inventory of all your possessions. A written description should include the date of purchase, original cost and any improvements. Serial numbers for TVs, computers and electronics should be recorded, and any receipts you have should be attached to the list.

Allied offers its homeowners insurance customers a Home Inventory Worksheet that you can use to list the contents of your home. Once you've established a complete inventory of your property, it should be fairly easy to update periodically. To make the task easier, you may want to tackle one room at a time. Don't forget items that may be stored in closets or storage boxes.

Capture it with the camera

If you have a video camera, use it to establish additional documentation of your home and belongings for insurance purposes. Although the recording alone may not be enough to prove the loss of valuable items, it can be used as evidence in case of theft, fire or damage. The home inventory recording should include:

  • Complete scans of all rooms, outside grounds, attic, basement and garage.
  • Close-ups of all valuable items such as artwork, jewelry and antiques (zoom in on serial numbers on stereos, television sets, and other electronic appliances).
  • Audio commentary of details that may not be visually apparent. Store the tape or media card, along with your comprehensive written list, in a safe place away from home, such as a locked file cabinet at your office or your bank safe-deposit box. For extra safety, you may want to make copies and store them in separate places.

Other home inventory options

The non-profit Insurance Information Institute offers homeowners free online home inventory software that makes creating and updating your home inventory easy and efficient. Know Your Stuff® is available as a download for either Mac® or Windows® operating systems. Best of all, your inventory is securely stored online for free.  If you don't have the time or desire to conduct a Home Inventory yourself, there are companies that specialize in taking inventory and maintaining complete records should you ever need to file a claim. Ask your Allied agent to help you locate a reputable company in your area.

Product, coverage, discounts, insurance terms, definitions, and other descriptions are intended for informational purposes only and do not in any way replace or modify the definitions and information contained in your individual insurance contracts, policies, and/or declaration pages from Allied-affiliated underwriting companies, which are controlling. Such products, coverage, terms, and discounts may vary by state and exclusions may apply.