Home Contents Insurance - Do You Need a Home Contents List?

Fire, flood, natural disaster-these are the things homeowners fear the most. Whether you've just moved into a home, you've been in residence for many years, or you're renting a place, picking up the pieces and starting over can be overwhelming. You can make the process much less confusing and frustrating if you have a home contents list to give your insurance company.

What is a home contents list?

A home contents list is just that-a record of all the things in your home that need to be replaced in the event of a disaster. Even though you're in your home day in and day out, when you need to recall the exact contents and their worth, you're probably going to miss something. Make a list before you need it and you won't forget anything.

How do you make a list?

There are many ways to get started creating a home contents list. If you're just starting out with a home, now is the time to begin recording purchases. Keep all of your receipts for electronics, furnishings and other big-ticket items. Create a list or database to keep information organized. You can even use copies of your wedding registry to help catalogue your home's contents.

If you've been in your home for many years, creating a home content list may seem very confusing. You've spent years accumulating goods-how can you catalogue it all? Start simply by doing a walk-through of your home with a video recorder or voice recorder. Talk about the items you see, record the brand names (and the model/serial numbers, which are very handy if items are ever stolen). Try to remember when you purchased things. Don't forget to look in the garage, in closets and drawers! You can also take photos of items. Having this sort of record will help your insurance agent to pin down costs and values for replacement.

After you've done a walk-through, sit down at the computer or use a pad of paper and create a written inventory. Do a search through your files for receipts and other paperwork to help you find values for items. One website, www.knowyourstuff.org, has a free program you can download to help you keep track of your home inventory, as well as calculate how much home or renter's insurance you'll need to cover your goods.

  • A note on big value items: Some items actually gain value over the years. Antiques, furs, jewelry and artwork are all items that are important to catalogue and keep track of values. Depending on the item and value, you may want to talk with your insurance agent about insuring them separately, to make sure you get the full value in the event of a disaster.
  • Don't forget the smaller stuff when making an inventory of your more expensive items. Do you have an extensive CD collection? Some rare toys, or a few designer outfits? Make sure you tell your insurance agent about these items as well.

The list is done-now what?

Once you've completed your home content list, you'll want to keep the information in a safe place. In the event of a disaster, these records will only help you if they are not destroyed. You can keep the list in a fireproof storage box in your home or at a friend or relative's home. You can also store it in a safety deposit box at a local bank for a small monthly fee. Make sure you add any purchases to the information on your list, keeping everything up to date. It's a sad thing when anyone ends up needing to use their home contents list, but it's far better than needing a list and not having one.

Additional Reading:

Home Insurance Questions and Answers
5 Ways To Save On Home Insurance
Your Current Homeowner's Policy - Is It Enough?

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