You should always have a home inventory list in case of a disaster. Here’s how to create one.

Enduring a disaster and its aftermath can be difficult enough without trying to remember the details of every single item in your house. With the help of a home inventory checklist, you can account for your possessions and how much you need to be reimbursed by your homeowners insurance policy. This guide will walk you through why an itemized list for insurance claims can be a lifesaver — and how to make one.

Why do you need a home inventory list?

The purpose of home insurance is to cover your financial losses after a disaster. Homeowners insurance coverage breaks down into two main categories: the property structure and the contents of your personal property. The home inventory list, also known as a personal property inventory list, focuses on the contents, which, as you can imagine, can be extensive. 

If you suffer a loss such as a fire or burglary, you will need to file a home insurance claim. Your insurance company will ask you for the total value of your lost contents and a list of the items you need replaced or reimbursed. The more detailed the contents list for insurance claim, the less likely you’ll forget to include something crucial — and the faster your claim will process. 

How to create an inventory list 

Household inventory can be time-consuming to get through, but it’s worth the trouble. You’ll need to account for furniture, decor, clothes, kitchen items, artwork, tools, sporting goods and more. The more detailed the list is, the less hassle if you need to make a claim. You’ll need:

  • A camera
  • Notebook or paper and pen
  • A small accordion file or folder

When creating the list, go room by room to ensure you don’t miss any important items. As you list the household inventory, try to include the original price or approximate value of the listed items and attach any receipts, along with the serial numbers for major electronics and appliances. If you find you have multiple receipts, you can organize them in the file folder for safekeeping.

You can also create a home inventory spreadsheet on a laptop or computer that’s easier to sort and share. 

Take photos or videos of the items and receipts as you go. The photographs or videos of your possessions are added proof if you file a home insurance claim. 

Don’t forget to:

  • Make photocopies or upload digital versions of important documents such as birth certificates, credit card numbers, bank account numbers and house deeds.
  • Include basement or attic items such as holiday decorations
  • Inventory outdoor goods such as patio furniture, sheds and more
  • Note items of higher value, such as artwork, collectibles, diamond jewelry and watches, which may need a certified appraisal and special additional coverage due to their higher value.
  • Account for home upgrades outside of the standard such as special marble countertops, luxury window treatments or a free-standing soaking tub. 

When done, save multiple copies of the inventory list, images and additional items and receipts to a cloud-based service, a thumb drive that can be stored outside of your home, entrusted to friends or family or in a safe-deposit box. After all, if your home is destroyed, your inventory list will be gone, too.

Itemized list for insurance claim: expert tips

While a home inventory list for insurance is pretty straightforward to produce, it’s helpful to follow the advice of experts to ensure you’re prepared in case of the unexpected. Vanessa Coffeen Mcevoy, a former Farmers Insurance agent and current consultant has some tips to keep in mind when creating a household inventory list. Some things to keep in mind include:

Cash value vs. replacement value

There are two types of home insurance coverage for your property: cash value vs. replacement value. The difference can be substantial in the case of a claim. 

Premiums for cash value are typically cheaper. In case of a claim, cash value coverage works by paying the depreciated cost of your lost or damaged items. This means that the appraiser will value the item based on its age and condition. For example, you may only receive $300 for a five-year-old television in average condition that you originally paid $1200 for brand new. You’ll need to find a second-hand model for a similar price point, or purchase a new one, paying the difference in price out of pocket.

Replacement value coverage is higher in price but may be less of a hassle in case of a significant home insurance claim. The coverage will reimburse you for a new model. This means that the coverage will reimburse the price of a new and comparable model of the item, such as a TV, even if the covered television is older or no longer available. 

When deciding on which one to choose, think about how much it’s worth to go into a store and purchase a new version of the items you lost, compared to having to find second-hand versions of the goods or paying for the difference out-of-pocket.

Special items

Home insurance typically sets limits on your personal property categories. 

“Check your policy’s coverage limits. You may find that jewelry, for example, is capped at $1,000 to $2,000 total,” Coffeen Mcevoy says. 

As you can imagine, a single piece of jewelry could use up your policy’s limit for jewelry. If you have electronics, guns, collectibles or other item categories with higher values, you may need to purchase additional coverage, known as scheduled personal property coverage, which is an endorsement or floater.

“One customer had a large number of designer jeans, which added up to thousands of dollars. We insured the denim collection for its full value for just a few extra dollars per month. Scheduled personal property coverage could also work for designer handbags, cosmetics or other higher-value collections of items,” Coffeen Mcevoy says.

Be sure that you have receipts for the higher-value items. If they’re collectibles, art or expensive jewelry, the value may be more difficult to define. Your insurance carrier may require you to have the goods professionally appraised. Be sure to save a copy of the appraisal certification in case of a claim. 

Share the contents list for insurance claim 

If you’re working with a trusted insurance agent, you may want to share a copy of the home insurance list, receipts and photographs with your agent to keep on file. 

“In case of a claim, your agent could work with the appraiser by providing the checklist and following up on your personal property claim,” Coffeen Mcevoy says.

Keep the household inventory list updated

Be sure to do an annual review of your home’s contents to update your home inventory checklist and add any new purchases, as well as remove items that have been donated or discarded. If some of your items have significantly increased in value, you may want to have them reappraised and notify your insurance company.
Also, keep a running tally of your personal property to make sure your coverage value is enough to cover a total loss. You may find you’re over or underinsured, and need to reduce (or increase) the amount of coverage based on the total value of your personal property inventory list. Knowing how much home insurance you need could save you money in the long run when you pay for the right amount of coverage.

Household inventory list template

Refer the following home inventory checklist created by Insure.com to help you to get started.

Article and date of purchase

Price

Living room

Carpet/rugs

 

Curtains/drapes

 

Sofas

 

Ottomans

 

Chairs

 

Coffee tables

 

End tables and contents

 

Television/VCR

 

Camcorder

 

Videotapes

 

Video games

 

Radio/stereo/DVD

 

Compact discs/records/tapes

 

Bookcases

 

Books

 

Musical instruments

 

Planters/plants

 

Mirrors

 

Collectibles/knickknacks

 

Other

 

Dining room

Curtains/drapes

 

Carpet/rugs

 

Buffet

 

Tables

 

Chairs

 

China cabinet

 

China

 

Silverware

 

Crystal

 

Glassware

 

Clocks

 

Lamps/fixtures

 

Serving table/cart

 

Table linens

 

Wall hangings

 

Other

 

Bathrooms

Clothes hamper

 

Curtains

 

Wall hangings

 

Dressing table

 

Toilet articles

 

Electrical appliances

 

Scale

 

Shower curtains

 

Linens

 

Rugs

 

Other

 

Kitchen

Tables

 

Chairs

 

Linens

 

Curtains

 

Cabinets

 

Lighting fixtures

 

Bowls

 

Pots/pans

 

Utensils

 

Cutlery

 

Dishes

 

Refrigerator

 

Stove

 

Dishwasher

 

Disposal unit

 

Freezer

 

Washer

 

Dryer

 

Small appliances

 

Clocks

 

Radios

 

Step stool

 

Television

 

Microwave

 

Food/supplies

 

Wall hangings

 

Other

 

Bedrooms

Bookcases

 

Books

 

Chairs

 

Carpet/rugs

 

Curtains/drapes

 

Bed frames

 

Linens

 

Mattresses

 

Cedar chest

 

Desk and contents

 

Dressers and contents

 

Dressing table

 

Night tables

 

Lamps

 

Mirrors

 

Clocks

 

Radios

 

Sewing machine

 

Television/VCR/DVD

 

Toilet articles

 

Computer equipment

 

Games

 

Toys

 

Collectibles/knickknacks

 

Clothing

 

Shoes

 

Wall hangings

 

Other

 

Attic/Basement/Garage

Furniture

 

Luggage/trunks

 

Exercise/sports equipment

 

Toys

 

Outdoor games

 

Ornamental lawn items

 

Lawn mower

 

Shovels

 

Spreader

 

Sprinklers/hoses

 

Wheelbarrow

 

Snow blower

 

Ladder/step stools

 

Workbench

 

Carpentry tools/supplies

 

Canned goods/supplies

 

Pet supplies

 

Garden tools/supplies

 

Other

 

Patio/Porch

Chairs

 

Floor covering

 

Outdoor cooking equipment

 

Plants/planters

 

Tables

 

Umbrella

 

Other

 

 Source of list: Independent Insurance Agents of America

Go To Top