Creating a Home Inventory

Home inventory

Could you tell your insurance company every item you have in your home right now, and how much it’s worth? Probably not—and that could hurt you if your home is burglarized, severely damaged, or destroyed, and you have to make a claim on your homeowner’s insurance. A home inventory can make the process of settling a claim easier.

A home inventory is simply a record of your personal possessions. It’s valuable to have even if you never make a claim since knowing what your belongings are worth can help you purchase the right amount of insurance for your personal property in the first place.

Creating a home inventory may sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. If doing the whole house at once feels overwhelming, do a little at a time, say a couple of rooms per week. (Just make sure to finish the project!) There are several different methods to compile your inventory. Choose the one you’ll find easiest—the one you’ll actually do. Who knows, your tech-savvy teenager might even enjoy helping you with this project.

Cameras, phones, or apps

Digital cameras and smartphones have made the task of creating a home inventory easier. It takes just a few minutes to take photos of an entire room. Print the photos and record important information about your items (make, model, price, etc.) on the back, or create a spreadsheet with your inventory information (click here for a free home inventory spreadsheet template). If you don’t want to print them, store your photos digitally in the cloud, burn them to a CD, or store them on a flash drive.

Another simple way to create your home inventory is to use your smartphone to shoot video of your belongings. When you shoot a video, you can also describe the items as you film them. Sometimes a video is all you need to prove you owned an item, but do check with your insurance company to see if you’ll need other documentation as well.

Using a free or paid mobile app is an increasingly popular way to create your home inventory. Most home inventory apps prompt you to list your rooms, the items in them, and other details. You can add photos as well as copies of receipts and other documents. Two free options include the Insurance Information Institute’s “Know Your Stuff” app, or the Encircle home inventory app (both have versions for Apple and Android). 

Inventory tips

When taking photos, start with a wide-angle shot from the room’s entryway. Take photos or video of each wall, as well as the floor and the ceiling. These images record types of flooring, special moldings, ceiling fans and light fixtures.

Get close-up shots of any serial numbers or other identifying tags.

Take group shots of like items, such as books, shoes, or kitchen items (open a cabinet door to record your dishes, for example).

Make sure you get photos of everything in the room.

Describe items pictured: name brand, model, model number, color, special markings or features. Note what you paid for the item and document the receipt if you have it.

Remember to inventory items in your attic, garage, or storage shed.

If you buy a big-ticket item, save the receipt and add the item to your inventory right away.

Once you create your home inventory, be sure to review it now and then and keep it updated.

Make sure your home inventory is stored in a safe place that you can access when you need it. Keep the photos, CD, or flash drive in a safe place, such as with a trusted friend, in a safe deposit box, or in a disaster-proof box in your home. You can also use your email server as a backup if you email yourself a copy of your inventory.

It does take some effort to create a home inventory, but if you lose your belongings and you don’t have one, it may take quite a lot of time and hassle for your insurance company to reimburse you adequately. We hope you’ll never have to make use of your home inventory to make a claim, but if you do, your preparation should help your claim be paid more quickly and fairly. 

For more information on homeowner insurance, call Lakewood Financial at 941.747.4600

Why You May Need a Vacant Dwelling or Builder’s Risk Policy

Empty buildings or buildings under construction or renovation present some unique concerns. An empty home or other building can be a magnet for vandalism, and if someone isn’t living there, a small leak could easily become a big flood. Empty buildings are just as likely to be affected by fire, wind, or lightning. Standard homeowner’s or commercial insurance policies may not cover you if the insured building is vacant. Certain remodeling projects, and residential and commercial construction jobs require specialized insurance policies. At Lakewood Financial, we have the experience and knowledge to help you with your unique needs.

Here are two types of policies that might apply to your situation:

A vacant dwelling policy covers your home if it is left vacant for a certain length of time, usually at least 60 days.

A Builder’s Risk policy covers a building under construction. It can cover just the building itself, or also the materials at the job site for use in construction of the building. Coverage limits should be for the completed value of the structure, less the value of the land. The policy can be written for as short a term as one month all the way up to 6 months or a year. The policy can also be extended if construction is not finished in time, or be cancelled if the building is finished before the end of the policy term.

Let’s look at some scenarios in which you should have a vacant dwelling or builder’s risk policy:

Vacant dwelling

  • You’ve bought a home, but for some reason you can’t move in yet—you haven’t sold your old home, or, conversely, you’ve moved to your new home and need an insurance policy to cover your previous home until it sells.
  • You own a commercial building or rental property that currently has no tenant.

 Builder’s risk

  • You bought a home as investment, intending to have renovations done before selling it, and it will remain vacant until you sell.
  • You’re building a home from the ground up.
  • You bought a bank-owned home you’re renovating before you move in.

Unlike many agencies, at Lakewood Financial, we have a lot of experience working with property investors and others with complex real estate insurance needs. We understand and are familiar with the situations that require these types of policies. Please contact us so we can tailor the right policy for your unique builder’s risk or vacant dwelling needs.