Home Inventory: How to Prepare for a Total Loss of Your Home

By Sam Schoutko, Personal Lines Underwriter

What do you own? Let’s play a game:      

Take a second and think about all of your belongings in your house.  Can you list every single item of personal property?  Of course not.  How about just everything in your bedroom?  All the clothes, toiletries, random items…it would be pretty difficult, right?  What about just one drawer in your dresser?  Or just the clothes in your closet?  Don’t even try that junk drawer in the kitchen unless you have a penchant for headaches.  If push came to shove, most everyone probably couldn’t even do that either.  So what happens when your home burns down?  Or a tornado whisks it away to Oz?  Do you have a way to recollect everything you own?  Have you kept an inventory anywhere to help restock your belongings?  How will you know what to buy at the store and will my insurance pay for everything?

Most people are completely unprepared for instances like this and while they are extremely unlikely to happen to you, they do happen – and it makes a world of difference to be even a little prepared for them.  I hope that I can outline a couple quick and easy things you can do that will help you in the very unlikely instance of a total loss of your home.

Obviously, the most important piece of this is to make sure you have insurance on your home and belongings.  However, that by itself isn’t enough, it is important to make sure your personal property is covered at replacement cost and not actual cash value.  This is insurance lingo and I won’t explain all the differences but if there is any question of that you need to contact your insurance agent to find out what your policy has or members of our Sales and Service Center team (877-971-6300) are always available to talk through that with you.  You would be amazed at the out of pocket expenses you will incur if you don’t have replacement cost on your personal property.  Even if you have a renter’s policy this is extremely important, don’t assume it is there!

Once you are sure that is in place, what can you do keep track of the stuff you own?

One tip that I have always thought was a good idea and not difficult to do is to open all the drawers in your home and simply take a slow sweeping video of every room in your house with your camera phone.  Most camera phones nowadays have incredible resolution and will do a perfect job of recording what you need.  That way if anything were to happen you could pull up the video and simply pause it over each drawer as a freeze frame and an aid to remember what you have there.

Another easy thing to do is after you buy a major item simply take a picture of the receipt.  Most phones have a way to automatically backup photos to some cloud service and then they are always there and accessible to you.

One of the most important tips to this I just mentioned is online cloud storage.  There are tons of websites that offer free storage online (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Dropbox, etc.) and all you need to do is simply upload the sweeping video you took of your home and/or any photos you have taken of receipts or rooms in your house to that service.  You can certainly buy fireproof safes or store important items and documents offsite but cloud storage will give you the ability to have something available anywhere you go no matter the circumstances.

The fact is a total loss event like a fire or tornado will most likely never happen to you but I hope that this will help give you peace of mind and prepare you a little in case it does happen.  Obviously, nothing can prepare you for that devastation but the point of insurance is to help make you whole again after a loss.  You pay your insurance company for this service and MAX is so very happy to help you in this time of need – it is literally our pleasure and the reason we come to work every day!  The fact is it can be difficult (but not impossible) to make you are whole again if you aren’t adequately prepared and as I have outlined a tiny bit of preparation will go a long way.

SamAbout Sam

Sam enjoys spending time with his wife Krista and their Siberian Husky, Ecko, while not at work.  Krista is a wonderful cook and baker so their relationship works well as he is a wonderful eater of the food she cooks and bakes.  They enjoy keeping up to date on the latest movies and traveling to see family.  As new homeowners, there is always a project to tackle around the house as well.