Got Insurance? Follow it up with a good home inventory

As homeowners we all have insurance to cover damages to our home from fire, theft, and sometimes flood and earthquakes. We insure the structure and the contents. But when it comes time to make a claim, evaluating the loss to the structure is a lot easier than tallying up the losses to the contents.

That's why it is important to complete an inventory of your possessions. It sounds tedious, but with the right tools and a plan, it can be a lot easier than you think.

Written inventory
If technology is not your thing, the simplest way of creating an inventory of your possessions is with a simple piece of paper and a pencil. Organize the list by rooms. Write down the name of a room, then list all of the contents you want to record for insurance purposes. Go room to room until you have completed the entire home. Don't forget the garage and storage sheds, patio furniture, etc.

Record brand, model names and serial numbers. Collect and save receipts with purchase dates and cost.

The process is time consuming, but a little time spent now will save headaches later if you ever have to file a claim.

Visual inventory
One of the quicker ways of making a home inventory is to use a video camera. As with the paper list, go room to room filming everything you want to record for the inventory. It's best to narrate out loud the description of the items you are recording. Also, include images of the brand and model names, as well as serial numbers. Keep in mind your insurance company will likely ask for a written list.

Uniquely valuable
If you have collectibles, expensive jewelry, or other unique valuable items, check with you insurance agent about sufficient coverage. Such items may need to be insured separately.

Your list and recorded information will do you no good if it is destroyed with the house or otherwise lost. Make multiple digital copies of your list and recordings, either on a CD, USB drive, or online storage service. Invest in a fireproof safe where you can store a copy of the list, as well as important legal and personal documents, for yourself and your loved ones. You can also store them in a safety deposit box.

With a little work now you will be well prepared for anything that may happen in the future.