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In my kitchen, on a piece of dated paper, I have my Grami's handwritten family recipe for Polish "chruscikis". She would make these feather-light, crispy pastry bows sprinkled with powdered sugary goodness for our family to enjoy around the holidays. This sweet artifact is a time capsule of childhood memories spent with my great-grandmother. She didn't have a lot, but our time was always full of laughter, love, and plenty of flour. This old recipe written on a tattered piece of paper has no real dollar value but is a one-of-a-kind treasure to me.
Why is a home inventory important?
Here at NNINS, we assist our members with home claims daily when their home's treasures get damaged or destroyed. Occasionally, the total loss of a home occurs and both valuable and sentimental items are lost. It's genuinely heartbreaking. In the difficult aftermath, we feel privileged to have the opportunity to help our members rebuild and get their lives back to normal. Meet the Harpers who experienced a devastating home fire.
People say, "They are just things, and things can be replaced". So true- hug your loved ones! But imagine losing your home and ALL your belongings - family photos and heirlooms, furniture, electronics - to a fire or weather disaster.
Now imagine recalling every item inside your home from memory for an insurance claim.
While some of those things are priceless and can't be replaced, you want to be properly reimbursed for those things that can be replaced to start putting your life back together. As we begin a home insurance claim process, there’s important information we need to know about the value of what was lost, especially inside the home.
House fire in Stafford, Virginia. The fire started in the kitchen.
That's why a home inventory is so important. It can be hard to remember everything you own, especially in the emotional aftermath of a disaster. It doesn't matter if you live in a single-family home or rent an apartment; a record of your home's contents is vital to a claim. When in place, it simplifies and expedites the insurance process immensely.
There's really only one rule of thumb:
We can only cover what you know you lost. The more detail in your documentation, the better.
What should a home inventory include?
Your home inventory should include as much description as possible, including the square footage of your home, the number of rooms, the age, and the construction materials of your home.
A new model 65-inch Samsung smart HDTV is worth a bit more than a 30-inch bargain store flat-screen from 3 years ago. Here's a list of essential things your home inventory should ideally include, along with photos and videos:
- Catalog all of your possessions
- Serial numbers
- Model numbers and brand names
- Receipts whenever possible
Simple ways to do a home inventory
1. Try a smartphone app
If you're tech-savvy, this is definitely the way to go. Some are free, and some are paid, but there are plenty of apps you can use on your phone or tablet to make a home inventory. They have nice features like folders, photo uploading, barcode scanners, and cloud backup and syncing for family sharing on multiple devices. That means you never have to worry about your inventory getting lost or destroyed! One less thing to worry about! Find a top-rated app that suits your needs by searching "home inventory" in your app store.
2. Buy and download software or use a checklist
You can also purchase home inventory software for your PC or do it the old-fashioned way and print a ready-made list to record your belongings. Adding receipts and pictures to your document will make it complete. Be sure also to check out #4 below!
3. Don't forget hidden valuables
Check the attic. Open those drawers. Remember jewelry, antiques, and valuable items that may be put away or stored in your basement, attic, or garage. Don't miss seasonal items that get put away for large parts of the year.
4. Make copies and share them
Store a copy of your inventory in the cloud or on a thumb drive or CD in case your computer is destroyed. A fireproof safe is a good place along with important documents or another location away from home, like with a good friend, family member, or a safety deposit box. You can also send a copy to us and we'll keep it in your policy file.
5. Update your home inventory regularly
Keep your inventory up-to-date, especially when large or expensive purchases or you inherit something of value. In that case, it's also a good idea to give your independent agent a call and let them know. It should also account for any recent improvements – like a new roof or water heater – and upgrades – such as a room addition or a new pool. You want to be sure that a new item is included under your coverage.
We're right here and ready to help
We hope you never have such a devastating property loss. But if you do, someone like Marty from our Home Claims Team will help you get back on your feet. It’s comforting to know that you have all that valuable information stored in one place. So go get your home inventory in place today and have peace of mind that you'll be prepared for a smooth claims process.
THE NORTHERN NECK INSURANCE INTEGRITY PROMISE — We pledge to provide straight talk and good counsel from our NNINS Virginia insurance experts through our blog. While we hope you find this to be a helpful source of information, it does not replace the guidance of a licensed insurance professional, nor does it modify the terms of your Northern Neck Insurance policy in any way. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy.