How to itemize your possessions for homeowners or renters insurance

When it comes to your home, it’s hard to think about the unimaginable: losing your possessions in a disaster and using that insurance you’ve been paying for each month.

With recent events like the gas explosions in Massachusetts, which led to the destruction of dozens of homes, not to mention the possibility of theft or a simple house fire, you may be wondering how to be prepared if something like this happened to your home in New York. Whether you have homeowners or renters insurance in New York, it’s important to take a thorough inventory of your possessions.

Why is taking inventory important?

If the unthinkable does happen, making an insurance claim will be much easier if you have a list of belongings that are missing.

Unless just one obvious valuable was taken or destroyed, such as a computer, it can be hard to know exactly what’s lost. And, after such an incident, you and your family are likely to be stressed and frustrated, and it’s not going to be easy to itemize every missing item after the fact.

By creating a list now, you will better protect yourself from being in that position down the road and the documentation of a list makes it likelier you will get a full claim paid for the items. And who knows, maybe you’ll figure out you have a lot more valuables than you thought you did.

Knowing what you own and how much its worth will also give you a good idea of how much your estate is worth overall, which can be helpful for creating a will or other legal documents.

What are the best ways to take stock of possessions?

Taking a walk around your home with a camera may be a good idea to start things off. Then, upload that video online to your email, iCloud, or Dropbox so that if the tape or camera are lost, the video won’t be.

Taking photographs of each individual item is also a good idea as you create your detailed written list. Note that for some insurance companies, a video or image inventory is enough when you’re making a claim. There’s no one right way to creating a digital inventory of your possessions. But there are many tools available to help you.

Many people prefer using a simple Excel spreadsheet. You could create a few columns, such as Item Name, Date Purchased, Original Cost, Location in Home, Worth, etc. Then tally up the worth of all your possessions.

Sortly and Digital Locker are two popular apps that can help you create an accurate inventory. These tools allow you to upload serial numbers, insert photos, and organize by rooms in your home or by item categories. You can keep track of current value and other details like warranties. These apps ensure that your information is backed up online as well.

However you decide to create your inventory, always make sure you save it online so it can be accessed from anywhere.

Be patient and thorough

Creating an itemized list of your valuables and possessions is most likely going to take a while. You will be entering in almost everything you own while determining each item’s worth.

Be patient, and do small portions at a time. Start with one room and do another the next day. Give yourself time to be accurate, or else you’ll want to rush through it and may forget certain items.

And don’t forget to continue updating your list. Creating a detailed inventory is not a project that you do once and then you’re done. You may not have many of the receipts for your possessions when you create your list, but when you purchase new things, you can then add them to the inventory and include the original purchase price.

Also remember to update your list if you sell possessions or have a garage sale. Think of your list as a living record.

If you have additional questions about how homeowners or renters insurance works in New York, get in touch with our team at NICRIS Insurance. We are committed to helping our community navigate the complex world of insurance. Call us at (516) 544-0006, fill out our contact form, or visit our office in Plainview.