Why your disaster kit needs a home inventory
Imagine losing everything in a disaster like Hurricane Harvey, then having to list all of your possessions to file an insurance claim — every plate, holiday decoration and piece of clothing for starters.
Without a home inventory, this would be the toughest memory test you'd ever face, and forgotten items could cost you in the form of a lower insurance payout.
“You can lose thousands of dollars because you didn’t include everything,” says public insurance adjuster David Moore, COO of Jansen/Adjusters International.
A home inventory is a list of all your belongings and ideally includes photos or video of everything and receipts of big-ticket items, such as furniture and TVs.
“Having that inventory will help alleviate a lot of stress,” says Carrie Bonney, a spokesperson for Farmers Insurance.
Here’s how to create an inventory and what to do if you don't have one after disaster strikes.
Tools to help Some insurers offer free home inventory apps that let customers catalog belongings, upload receipts, add item details and create reports. Free and low-cost apps, such as Sortly for iOS and Encircle for Android and iOS, are also available.
Making a list from scratch You can create an inventory on your own. The easiest way is to take a video of everything in your house, room by room, Galbraith says. Here's how:
Take footage of items on the floors, walls and hanging from the ceiling.
Include everything in drawers, cupboards and closets. “Don’t leave out little things — photos, trophies, knickknacks and books,” Moore says. “Don’t think that something’s too small. If it’s in your home, it’s got some value.”
Capture the make, model and serial numbers of electronic equipment and appliances, Bonney says.
After cataloging everything, store the digital inventory in the cloud or on an external hard drive in a secure spot away from home, such as a safe deposit box, Bonney says.
Making a claim without an
inventory Here’s what to do if you have to make an insurance claim without a home inventory: Mentally go through each room in the house and think of everything you can.
Use a list of common household items to spark your memory. The United Policyholders spreadsheet lists hundreds of items room by room.
Check any photos you still have of the inside of your house, perhaps on social media or on your phone, to jog your memory.
Ask friends and family to share photos taken in your house.