This one thing will make your life much easier in the event of a property or theft

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A couple of years ago, Jan got a call from a long-time client in Central Idaho, who, while he was in Seattle for cancer treatment, had a wildfire sweep through his house, destroying it.He was devastated, his whole life was in ashes.Providing him with a temporary place to live was the easy part.Filing an accurate claim was hard, causing a lot of unneeded stress in a difficult situation. Disasters happen usually with little or no warning, there are so many ways we can lose our possessions, fire, flood or theft are just a few.

Once we left on a Friday afternoon once to go to a friend’s wedding in Los Angeles, and having skipped lunch, we found a restaurant close to LAX after arriving, but before checking into the hotel.When we came out after the meal, someone had broken into our car, stealing all our luggage. After feeling the violation and frustration of everything being stolen, when it came time to file a claim, (under homeowners’ insurance), we had a hard time remembering what was in just our suitcase! We cannot imagine trying to reconstruct our belongings in our entire home of 31 years.

A detailed list of damaged or destroyed possessions- including a list of purchase dates, and model numbers is almost required to provide a quick settlement of insurance claims.How quickly your claim is settled will be determined by the details of your inventory report.The sooner that you can provide the answers that you need to get to settlement, the quicker you can get back on track.

Consider this an opportunity to learn the real value of your items, especially art and jewelry let it serve as a reminder to get them appraised. The value of these types of items can go up over time, so you should also make sure they are insured for the right amount. Be sure to check with us that your policy covers all your belongings, even the most personal and valuable items. A common underinsured item is guns.Homeowner’s policies have specific limits for theft of firearms and they can be grossly underinsured unless they are scheduled. If you have any questions about coverages or limits on your policy, please give us a call at 208-762-2122

A home inventory is simple to do, but it does require some time and patience to record the information you would need in the event of a catastrophe.

The solution?Taking a couple of hours to do a home inventory for your records.

What you need:

There are lots of apps that can help you organize a home inventory. If you are interested in finding the best apps, here is a blog that reviews several. If you choose to inventory without an app, it is an easy process, but will take a couple of hours.

How to start

When conducting a home inventory, try to include the following information about each item:

  • Location
  • Description
  • Quantity
  • Manufacturer
  • Model number
  • Serial number
  • Purchase date
  • Initial cost
  • Estimated or appraised replacement value
  • Copy of receipt if available.

How to complete your home inventory

Outside:Start at the front side and work your way around to the back.Make sure you include any outbuildings you may have.We have a storage room that contains our snowblower, camping equipment and even a paddleboard.When I think of the value of the storage shed, it is at least ten thousand dollars.

Inside: Record each room in your home. One way to film a room is to start by focusing on the upper half of the wall toward the ceiling and move slowly around as far as you can without moving from where you are standing.Move then to the lower half of the room and pan back to your original starting point.It might be a good idea to take detail photos of any item that is especially valuable. It is still hard for me to get through my thick head that I don’t have to pay to develop digital photos.Take lots of pictures! Take pictures of any high-end electronics stickers with serial numbers.

Worksheet: Having a written inventory is a good idea.Before you leave each room, take a note of any possessions that you need to take an inventory of. If you use a computer, there are lots of spreadsheet templates on the web.I found one here. Even if you never have a catastrophic loss, you might have a camera or laptop stolen, and having a central place for serial numbers, etc. could be invaluable.

Receipts: If you have receipts, record them on your spreadsheets.If you save your receipts from high end items, you should take pictures, or scan them and drop them into your file.

Organize: Think about if you had a complete loss, how would you best use this file? Create as many folders as you like. Another was is to create a binder with all of the information that you have collected.

Store off site: Keeping a copy of this file off site is of utmost importance.Saving the file to your home or laptop computer can leave it compromised.If you have a cloud drive, save it there, it’s very easy to update, and you don’t have to worry about it burning.Another option is to place it in a safe deposit box, or other safe place.

Hopefully you will never need your home inventory that you created, but if you do, you will be happy that you have it.