Catastrophes can strike at any time; thus, preparation and risk control are key risk management tools for homeowners. A home inventory is a necessary ingredient in this preparation. Insurance companies use these inventories in many ways, such as to account for insurable assets and in the subrogation process. And yet, a National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ survey indicated that nearly 60 percent of consumers lack a list or inventory of their possessions, putting them at risk for home insurance coverage gaps.
One of the easiest ways to create a home inventory is with your smart phone. Nearly 80 percent of Americans own a smart phone, according to the Pew Research Center, with young adults ownership approaching 95 percent. So, spend an hour or two creating your home inventory. Your insurance agent, adjuster, and pocketbook will thank you should a property loss occur. The following are some useful tips for developing such an inventory.
- Check out some of the free home inventory apps that are available on your smart phone. The Insurance Information Institute also has a list of free apps by some insurance companies that are downloadable by everyone. These apps walk you through the process.
- Use a smart phone app or your personal computer to make a list of your important possessions, including their make and model (if applicable), description, and estimated purchase price. On some programs, you can create the list by category or by room.
- Some insurers often provide home inventory software on their website and/or via smart phone apps. For example, Allstate offers its Digital Locker. This free and easy-to-use application lets its policyholders create an inventory of their valuable home items and store the information (and digital photos) in the cloud.
- Another option (on some apps) is to take a video of your possessions as you walk through your house (describing the items) and store the video in the cloud.
- Big ticket items may have increased in value since you purchased them. Examples include diamond rings, works of art, collectibles, and wine collections. Contact your agent to ensure adequate protection is in place since special coverage may be needed. In some cases for very high-value items, your agent may ask for an updated appraisal.
A home inventory should be reevaluated and updated as needed on an annual basis.
This article came from the International Risk Management Institute and is used with their permission.