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Your homeowner’s insurance policy covers not only your house, but the things you keep in it. Make sure you know what those things are in case you have to account for them.

Your best bet: Write it down. Take an inventory of your personal property and store it in a safe place, like in a safe deposit box at the bank, so you’ll have it handy when your insurance agent asks you for it. If you use inventory software, store a digital copy someplace besides on your own computer.

An insurance inventory of your possessions is a list of the things you own. Making a list of everything in your house is a daunting task, so break it down into steps. Here’s how:

  • Make a list of the rooms in your house. For each room, write categories of possessions, like “clothing,” “furniture,” “appliances” and “books.”
  • Assign a dollar value to each category. If you have receipts for your furniture or appliances, attach them to your inventory. If you don’t have the receipts, estimate how much you paid for the items in each group. Example: “Clothing: $4,000; curtains: $120; framed prints: $650; lamps: $75.”
  • Single out expensive or collectable items like jewelry, home theater equipment or signed paintings. Describe them in detail with the cost, the brand name and, if there is one, the serial number. Estimate the date you bought each piece. A tip: Ask your insurance agent if your policy covers jewelry and other expensive items. Most policies limit their coverage of those pieces unless you buy an additional “rider.”
  • Take a picture of each room from several angles so your photos show everything in the room. Photograph unique or expensive items separately.
  • If you have a video camera, film every room by walking slowly around it with the camera rolling. Narrate as you walk, describe the items and their cost.
  • Start saving your receipts for new purchases, especially for big-ticket items like electronics, appliances and furniture.
  • Sanderson Ford

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