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A home inventory is a comprehensive report which includes detailed descriptions and photos of the personal property in and around your home. While considered a key component in documenting insurance claims, a home inventory is also valuable for estate and financial planning.

Importance of a Home Inventory

If you were to step outside your home, could you list all the personal property (e.g. furniture, clothing) items you own? Even if you could list everything, would you be able to provide detailed information—including the purchase date, cost, model, and serial number—on the contents of your home?

A home inventory ensures that homeowners are sufficiently prepared, in terms of their insurance coverage, to deal with potential losses. A detailed list of all the items destroyed, damaged, or stolen is required for an insurance claim. Proper documentation ensures a faster and smoother claims process, as well as maximizing your insurance reimbursement.

In fact, you must provide documented proof of ownership to receive a settlement covering the full extent of the loss. Most policyholders do not realize that the burden of proof rests with them. At Allegiance Public Adjusters, we specialize in going through your damaged contents and documenting that proof for you.

Benefits of a Home Inventory

Obtaining a comprehensive home inventory:

  • Ensures you have the necessary amount of insurance coverage.
  • Identifies items—such as jewelry, coins, antiques, artwork, and silverware—that have limited coverage. The decision can then be made to purchase additional coverage (known as a “rider”) so the items will be insured for their full value.
  • Verifies the condition of your assets before moving or placing them in storage in case of loss or damage.
  • Allows documentation of ownership of items lost as a result of fire or theft.

Information Included in an Inventory Report

The information gathered in a home inventory report includes:

  • Description
  • Model
  • Serial number
  • Cost
  • Purchase date
  • Manufacturer
  • Photos and video footage
  • Heir designation
  • Estimated or appraised replacement value
  • Scans of receipts and important documents

Compiling Your Own Home Inventory

The adjusters here at Allegiance Public Adjusters recommend an updated inventory at least once a year. In this way, you can properly document new purchases and additions, as well as document items that you may discard or give away. The simplest way to document your inventory is via video camera. With video cameras becoming more and more common place, as most smartphones and tablets contain one, it is one of the most common methods of documenting ownership. There are many different ways to approach a video inventory documentation, but the most common and effective method is to video each room with the contents placed where they are usually stored. For example, if you keep your jewelry box on your dresser as opposed to on your bureau, you’ll want to video the jewelry box on your dresser. Make sure to open each drawer, and video the items in those drawers. Likewise, your closets will need to be filmed with the items on shelves and hanging on closet poles. Make sure that the items can be identified with some detail, especially items of greater value. Continue this process in each room using the same methodology. For example, you’ll want to video the items in your china cabinet, your kitchen cabinets/drawers, etc. The video will be very helpful in supplementing the scanned receipts you may have while at the same time provide proof of its existence in the case of items without a receipt.

Hiring an Inventory Specialist

An alternative to conducting your own home inventory is to hire a reputable company to compile it for you. Advantages include:

  • Credibility: Using an inventory specialist lends credibility to your inventory for insurance companies, financial planners, and law enforcement.
  • Time: The inventory can be taken and compiled within one week.
  • Expense: Hiring an inventory service is affordable and is money well spent when damage, theft, or death occurs.
  • Information: Complete and detailed information for each item—including photos and scans of receipts—is compiled to assist in claims or probate. Video footage is also taken to support ownership of property.
  • Security: Data from your inventory is encrypted and stored at a back-up facility—ensuring security should your copies be lost or destroyed.

How to Choose an Inventory Specialist

When hiring an inventory specialist, be sure they have and provide the following:

  • Performance bond.
  • Insurance coverage against accidental damage to personal property.
  • Signed guarantee certificate that the client’s information will be kept strictly confidential, and the steps that will be taken to ensure this occurs.
  • Statement of work defining what is to be inventoried and how the information will be delivered.
  • The means used to secure the data is clearly defined.
  • Renewal policy that details the cost of updating your inventory.
  • Review a sample inventory portfolio so you can see what you will be receiving.
  • Ask any questions that you may have concerning what will be provided.

Keeping a Home Inventory Secure

Once your home inventory is complete, store the information in a safe location away from your house such as a safe deposit box,  or by uploading it to a secure data backup provider.

After a Loss

Our professional claims consultants are here to represent your interests and assist you in preparing, filing and negotiating your insurance claim. It is our job to relieve you of all aspects of the claim process and recover the maximum monetary settlement from your claim. You’re already dealing with enough stress and loss; we’re here to help lighten the load. Allegiance Public Adjusters is here to handle all your insurance claim needs. Whether it’s your home or your business that sustained damage; whether the damage was a result of vandalism, theft, water, wind or fire; whether you have documented your personal property belongings or not; give us a call to speak with a Philadelphia public adjuster about your claim immediately. We are specialists at getting you back on your feet. With twenty-two years of experience dealing with insurance companies and the many facets of a property damage claims, we will always advocate for you, our client.