How to inventory your personal property

Taking a household inventory may feel like an overwhelming project at times, but here’s how you can simplify the process:

  • Decide which method works best for you: You can handwrite your home inventory worksheet or complete it digitally on your smartphone (both Android and iOS offer home inventory apps to catalog your items with a picture and description).
  • Start with your valuables: Off the top of your head, you likely know which items are most important to you or worth the most (jewelry, art, appliances, furniture, antiques, electronics, etc.). Beginning with your major items will help ensure your expensive possessions are documented, even if you don’t finish your full home inventory list.
  • Take a video: If you don’t have the time or patience to catalog all of your personal property (including clothing, kitchenware, and any other item not attached to your home), at least record a video of your possessions by walking through your home and zooming in on items and their serial numbers. A virtual home inventory can be helpful if you need to file a claim.
  • Contact your agent or insurer to discuss expensive items: For certain valuables (such as jewelry, fine art, stamp collections, and firearms), you may need to add an insurance rider (also known as “scheduling an item”) to ensure adequate coverage.

Pro tips for creating your home inventory list

  • Record each item’s basic information: From recent purchases to older possessions, note the price, serial number, make and model, and when/where you bought the item, if possible.
  • Keep receipts for major purchases: It’s a good idea to save email receipts or keep digital photos of paper receipts as they become difficult to read over time.
  • Be specific with expensive items: Include a description for pricey possessions—the more detail you provide, the fewer headaches you’ll encounter when filing a claim.
  • Use a home inventory spreadsheet: A spreadsheet, created with Microsoft Excel or a similar program, is an easy way to list your home’s contents by serial number, date purchased, cost, etc. You can download a free home inventory template online or make your own if you aren’t using an app that includes one.

Why is taking a home inventory important?

Here’s how a household inventory list can be beneficial:

  • Helps determine how much personal property coverage is necessary: Personal property coverage is included on any home, renters, or condo policy, and a home inventory can ensure you have enough coverage. For example, if the items on your home inventory list total $150,000, then you know the personal property coverage limit on your insurance policy needs to be at least that much.
  • Saves time and stress when filing a claim: If your personal property is damaged or destroyed in a fire, robbery, or any other covered claim, a detailed list of what you lost will be an integral resource for you and your insurance adjuster.
  • Makes it easier to itemize your losses for income tax purposes: If you’re eligible for a tax break following a catastrophe, a personal property inventory list can assist in identifying and substantiating your losses.

Do insurance companies require receipts for personal property claims?

The answer varies depending on the insurer and the situation. Many insurance companies advise customers to have two pieces of evidence (for instance, a video and a receipt) to prove ownership on a personal property claim. At ASI, one of the insurers in Progressive’s network and part of our family of companies, proof-of-purchase receipts are requested. You may also be asked to provide serial numbers and/or photos.

Questions about a home inventory or personal property coverage?

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