Recent fire devastation is wake-up call to create an inventory of what you own
Losing your home to fire or any disaster can throw your life into a tailspin when it comes to replacing everything you lost. But when’s the last time you updated an inventory of all your belongings?
All the fires and other disasters causing destruction lately serve as a good wake-up call to the importance of taking inventory of what’s in our homes, garages and storage units.
Since none of us can remember everything we own off the top of our heads, make your smartphone part of your memory. Just be sure to do it the right way.
For starters, don’t hold your phone vertically. Hold it horizontally, so you get the whole picture.
Take photos or video of individual items and describe them like a brass and glass lamp or an upholstered chair, then take a shot of the whole room.
Insurance experts say pick an easy spot, and roll the video in your camera and start describing what you see.
In the kitchen, for example, open a cabinet and describe the dishes including color, brand and style. How many bowls, plates, cups and saucers? When did you get them? How much did they cost?
The point is, photograph or take video of everything in your house, condo or apartment. Don’t forget the garage and storage units.
And don’t forget to photograph any receipts that can help.
The Insurance Information Institute says specify the brands, models and prices whenever possible.
Record all the serial numbers.
Count your clothing in categories, for example: 6 dresses, 5 pairs of slacks, ten pairs of heels, 4 pairs of dress shoes.
Keep a backup digital copy on an external drive or online storage account and store a paper copy of the full inventory somewhere safe outside your home.
Be sure to pay special attention to expensive items like art, jewelry, firearms and antiques, which typically are not covered in a standard homeowner’s policy.
The Northwest Insurance Council offers an inventory worksheet, as well as inventory software that you can download from its website.
Hopefully you’ll never need your home inventory because of a major disaster, but we’ve all seen how fast things can happen. If you do ever need it, the video documentation could be one of the best things you’ve ever done with the camera on your phone.