Preparing a Personal Property and Home Inventory

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

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Disaster can strike at any time and with little notice. It is crucial to account for important personal items in the event that you need to file a claim with your insurance provider to replace the item(s) or the cost of the item(s). Make a record of your possessions to help you claim a reimbursement when your items are lost or damaged.

Important: Do not wait! When disaster strikes, it is important to have already prepared and safeguarded a document that includes your current personal property home inventory. 

You may need to provide a personal property home inventory for the following types of insurance after a disaster: 

Be prepared:

(1) Make a list of all the items and things that you own including their cost and condition.

(2) Include photographs or videos of the interior/exterior of your home as well as cars, boats, and recreational vehicles.

(3) Have photos of durable medical equipment, and be sure to make a record of the make and model numbers for each item.

(4) Get professional appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, artwork, or other items that may be difficult to evaluate.

(5) Make copies of receipts and canceled checks showing the cost of valuable items.

You may need a personal property home inventory with a list of the items that you own or in your home if they are damaged due to a disaster or flood event to apply for insurance benefits coverage. Click the FAQs below to get more information on home inventory. 

Preparing a Personal Property Home Inventory

A personal home property inventory details everything that you own and the cost to replace these items if they are stolen or destroyed by a disaster. A personal home property inventory is the best way to determine if you have enough coverage. An insurance policy may provide coverage for your personal possessions for a certain percentage of the amount of insurance you have. You can insure your possessions in two ways: by their actual cash value or their replacement cost. Make sure you review your insurance information to determine which type of coverage and what type of coverage is best for you in a particular situation. 

A person who suffers damages to their personal home property can take the following general steps to settling their insurance claim with their personal home inventory: 

  • Before making any repairs make sure to take photos and videos of the property and personal damage.
  • Make an inventory of damaged or lost items.
  • Ask the insurance agent about any specific forms required by your insurer.
  • Keep receipts for any expenses to repair your property and/or for any extra living expenses such as a hotel or meals away from home. 
  • Give the insurance company a list of all expenses. Find out if you need to get approval before spending any money or making any contracts. 
  • Check your insurance policy for deadlines or special requirements. Try to follow all rules listed in your policy. 
  • Keep notes whenever you talk with your insurance company or agent including the dates and times of the people in the conversation. Keep copies of all letters, emails, documents, etc. that are sent to and from the insurance company. 
  • Request partial or advance payments from your insurance company as needed. 
  • Review checks, payments, letters, emails, etc. from the insurance company to make sure there is not any language releasing or giving up claims. If you are in doubt, discuss it with your agent. You may also need to talk to an attorney. 
  • Follow up with your insurance company about your claim 

A simple way to accurately document and manage your home inventory is through Sortly. This is a free app that can help you prepare and account for your items before a disaster strikes. 

On this app you can: 

  • Create entries for each item in your house 
  • Add photos of your items 
  • Add detailed information like serial numbers, purchase dates, item value, and warranty 
Last Review and Update: Sep 12, 2022
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