Try closing your eyes and listing your living room furnishings or the contents of your jewelry box. If you have trouble coming up with a complete tally, imagine how hard it would be when you are distraught after a fire or burglary.
Developing an inventory of your household valuables is the most prudent step you can take to both save your money and provide yourself peace of mind. An inventory not only guarantees the completeness of any insurance claim you submit after a burglary or a fire, it may also ensure a smoother claims process.
Your claims are less likely to be questioned when based on such inventories, especially if you submit photographs, receipts, and appraisers’ statements for valuable items. You should leave a copy of your inventory of household valuables with your insurance agent or in your safe deposit box.
What are the elements of the inventory? Key components are the date you bought each item of value in your possession and the purchase price.
A graphic description of each object, including age, brand name, size, model number, and other relevant details is critical. For sterling silver tableware, note the manufacturer, pattern, and number of place settings. If your possessions are extensive and of particularly high quality, consider filming them and recording your verbal descriptions of them.
If an appraiser has estimated the value of any of your possessions, you should record the figure and the appraisal date, reviewing the appraisal for precise, explicit descriptions. Highly generalized descriptions will not back up a claim.
For some property categories it is acceptable to lump together a number of articles and attach a single estimated value. This is a particularly wise approach with clothing. Unless you have closets full of designer clothes, there is no sense spending time and energy describing everything in your wardrobe.
Proper documentation is a key element of your inventory. Receipts and bills of sale should be saved with backup copies in a secure location, such as a safe deposit box.
The task may appear unnecessary and time-consuming, and you may never need your inventory records during your lifetime—and it is hoped that you won’t. However, if you do, the time you spent will have incalculable value.