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How to Create a Home Inventory After a Disaster

By Nathan Guss|7 min|May 2023

Have you suffered losses from a home disaster? You’ll need to create a home inventory as part of the claims process. Here’s how to document your lost and damaged belongings.

After a home disaster, creating an inventory of your damaged belongings is an important step in filing a claim. This guide will help you efficiently create a home inventory that ensures you receive an accurate settlement.

What’s a home inventory?

A home inventory is a list of your belongings that records important information, such as item descriptions, values, and supporting documentation. Ideally, you will have created one before any disaster or loss occurs. But don’t worry—you can still take inventory afterwards to help assess the extent of damages and assist with your insurance claim.

Having a home inventory offers invaluable benefits because it provides a thorough account of your possessions and their worth. It serves as a crucial tool for both preparedness and recovery, allowing you to protect your assets, streamline the claims process, and regain a sense of security in the face of unexpected events.

A step-by-step guide to creating a home inventory after a disaster

  1. Stay safe.

Before diving into the inventory process, be sure your home is safe to enter. Wait for the go-ahead from authorities. Don’t take any unnecessary risks for the sake of the inventory: you can be reimbursed for lost possessions, but you only have one life.

  1. Grab the right tools for the job.

When creating a home inventory, arm yourself with the right tools. Your trusty sidekick in this endeavour is none other than your smartphone. You’ll use it to capture photos and videos of your belongings, including their general appearance and serial numbers. If you have access to a computer, you can simply use an Excel spreadsheet. Alternatively, many home inventory apps are available that make the process easier. They offer features such as customizable templates, categorization options and the ability to calculate item values.

  1. Choose a method.

Creating a home inventory may seem like a gargantuan task. However, as for any large undertaking, tackling it in small increments is the key to success. You don’t need to finish it all in one day. Just build your list by going one room at a time or based on specific categories of items. By breaking down the process into manageable pieces, you can gradually put together a comprehensive inventory. Remember that every step is progress, and each item documented is a testament to your resilience.

  1. Enter data about your belongings.

Once you have chosen your approach, you should create the categories for your inventory document and then begin entering data. For each item, note the following:

  • Purchase date and vendor
  • Brief description
  • Make and model
  • Price
  • Serial number
  • Resale value (for collector’s items)

Attach photos of the items, serial numbers and receipts when possible. For clothing and similar lower-value items, you can use general categories (e.g., 8 pairs of jeans, 3 shirts) to simplify the process. To support your inventory, hold on to bills, receipts, warranties and instruction manuals.

Pay special attention to high value items, such as jewelry, artwork, musical instruments and electronics. That said, you should include absolutely everything: many small items will add up to a significant value.

  1. Document before throwing away.

After a disaster, some of your belongings may be irretrievable. Anything that cannot be cleaned or repaired will likely end up in a dumpster. But don’t throw things away too quickly! Even though these items may no longer be of any use, you still need to document them and keep evidence for insurance purposes.

Are you getting rid of heavily damaged possessions? Make sure to retain a sample so you can receive proper compensation or replacements. Even if some of your belongings are a total loss, take the time to photograph them. These details can make all the difference when filing your claim.

  1. Keep your list in a secure location.

Whether you’re creating your inventory before or after a disaster, choose a secure storage solution. Store it outside of your home (or temporary rental), either in the cloud or a safe deposit box at a bank. This ensures that it is safe even if an event destroys your physical records. Some insurance agents are willing to keep a copy for their reference.

  1. Be in touch with your claims adjuster.

Once you have completed the home inventory, the next step is to submit it to your claims adjuster. He or she will evaluate the damages and assess the settlement amount based on the information provided in your inventory. Feel free to ask any questions. Part of their role is to explain the claim settlement process and services provided. They’re there to assist you and ensure a smooth resolution of your claim.

Open communication with your claims adjuster is key. Stay in touch throughout the process, providing any necessary updates or supporting documentation as requested. His or her expertise will help through all phases of the claim settlement process, including the creation of your home inventory.

Need help with your home inventory?

Does tackling the complexities of a home inventory just seem like too much to deal with on your own? Enlisting the support of a public claims adjuster can be a game changer. These seasoned professionals work tirelessly on your behalf. With their in-depth knowledge of insurance policies and claims, they can guide you through creating a home inventory.

In the aftermath of a home disaster, creating a comprehensive inventory of damaged items is a crucial task. While it may seem daunting, remember that every step you take brings you closer to regaining a sense of normalcy. Diligently creating a home inventory ensures you have the necessary evidence to support your claim and move forward with rebuilding and recovery.

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