What Is a Home Inventory and Why Does It Matter?

Many homeowners only really worry about their insurance coverage while closing on a new home. Once the policy is in place, it's easy to forget about it. Unfortunately, homeowners insurance can quickly come back onto the center stage once a disaster strikes. Instead of being just another bill to pay, it's suddenly your lifeline to put your life back together.

While rebuilding your home's physical structure is critical, recovering your belongings after a disaster is also essential. Your personal belongings (or personal property) coverage makes this possible. Your insurance company will use this part of your policy to compensate you for your lost items, but getting the money you need isn't always as straightforward as you might expect.

What Makes Personal Property Claims Tricky?

Close your eyes and try to imagine everything that's in your house. If that's too difficult, simply try to imagine everything in the room around you. You may find that even this latter task is a significant challenge, especially when you get past the big-ticket items and start thinking about what you may have in drawers, cabinets, or on shelves.

Unfortunately, events that can destroy your home's structure are usually equally unforgiving on the items in your house. Many belongings can become sloppy, unrecognizable messes following a flood, and fires can destroy some items without leaving any significant trace behind. While your insurance company will attempt to inventory what's left, this job can often be slow and inaccurate.

You'll usually need to assist your insurer by providing a list of everything you own, but inventorying your entire house from memory is often an arduous task. This job can become even more difficult as your insurance company asks for details, such as how old an item was or which brand manufactured it. Getting these questions right is critical to receiving enough money to replace your possessions.

How Does a Home Inventory Help?

A home inventory is precisely what it sounds like: a detailed accounting of your belongings. A thorough home inventory should include as many items as possible, from furniture and electronics to clothes and tablecloths. You may even want to consider saving receipts or invoices for high-value items and, ideally, storing these documents in a fire-proof safe or outside of your home altogether.

A thorough inventory can be an invaluable tool when dealing with an emergency. You can use this documentation to help your insurance company accurately assess the value of your belongings. It can also provide the necessary details to identify items damaged in a fire, flood, or another disaster. The more accurate your inventory, the more likely you are to get a complete settlement for your property.