It’s annoying if you forget to take out the recycling or pick up bread during your supermarket run, but you can always make an extra grocery trip or write a to-do list for next week. There is, however, one list you don’t get to make once you realize you need it: the home inventory.
A list of your possessions and their estimated value, home inventories help you decide exactly what kind of home insurance to buy. It will shed light on your big library, tech tool collection, or all the business supplies you keep at home, which is essential for determining whether or not you have sufficient contents insurance.
Most home policies come with set caps on different types of content—$6,000 for jewelry and $1,000 for bicycles, for example—and you can buy additional coverage if you own more than that.
If you experience a loss, home inventories can also make filing claims easier. You’ll likely be stressed and tired after your home is damaged by a catastrophe, and wouldn’t necessarily remember to file a claim for everything you lost.
But if you have a home inventory, you can simply cross-reference the list with what was salvaged. Home inventories can also help you get tax relief or catastrophe assistance from the government, since they prove how much you have actually lost.
To make things easier, the Insurance Bureau of Canada offers a personal property inventory pamphlet to guide you. To create your own home inventory, here are the steps you should take:
- Walk through your house and, room by room, write down all the items you find. Don’t forget to check through drawers and closets, and add items kept outside the main house, such as in garages and sheds. For clothes and shoes, you can simply list the number of items you have in each category: two pairs of leather boots, 12 t-shirts, etc.
- Photograph your valuable possessions, including serial numbers on appliances, computers and other electronics. Alternatively, film your space as you walk through each room for a quick way to get started.
- You can use one of the many apps designed for home inventories or create an Excel spreadsheet and a folder of JPGs. For a spreadsheet, create columns for description, quantity, serial number, year and place purchased, and cost.
- If possible, attach receipts and/or credit card statements to your inventory. Telling your insurer what was specifically lost means they’ll reimburse you for the actual item, not the cheapest model or brand. For big ticket items that may have increased in value, such as jewellery and paintings, consider getting them appraised. And note that Amazon keeps a history of any items you purchased through the site, and will provide you a copy of a receipt whenever you might need it.
- Make sure you store this information safely, whether that’s uploading the files to YouTube, Flickr or a cloud account, storing it on a USB, or emailing it to your parents. Just keep the inventory in a place that will survive even if your home doesn’t.
- Don’t forget to update your inventory whenever you buy new items.
To estimate your insurance costs, get a home insurance quote.
- When Do You Need to Buy Additional Contents Insurance?
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