Four Reasons Homeowners Need a Home Inventory, now (And Five Easy Ways to Do It…)
home graphic and 3 check marks

Newsfeeds these days are filled with images of the destruction wrought by hurricanes, homes burned by wildfires, and communities ravaged by tornadoes. When a lifetime of treasures and memories are lost or damaged, the road to recovery can seem daunting.  Returning to a home that has been burglarized or damaged by water from a burst pipe or broken hose can also be jarring and disruptive.

These are the moments that matter for insurers: being there when our clients need us. To ease the process of recovery and rebuilding, insurers can also help their clients prepare for risks that could come their way. One important action homeowners can take before disaster strikes: making an inventory of their home’s contents. Knowing what’s been lost – and the value -- are key elements of filing an insurance claim. Yet just four in 10 homeowners have a home inventory, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Here are four reasons why you should help change that equation:

  1. Speeding the claim process. This is the most basic assist home inventories deliver when disaster – or even a less severe incident – occurs.  In the event of a loss, you can easily provide your insurance claim examiner with a detailed listing of items lost to speed up the claim process.
  2. Ensuring you have adequate insurance coverage. When taking a home inventory, estimate the value for each item so you can compare it to your policy limits.
  3. Staying up to date with routine home maintenance. While assembling an inventory, note recommended repair and replacement schedules for key devices and systems.  
  4. Highlighting where appraisals need doing or updating. For those who collect fine art, antiques, or specialty items, an inventory can show when you need to value individual pieces.

Conducting an inventory may seem like a time-consuming, intimidating task. But thanks to technology, it’s never been easier. Here are five tips:

  1. Don’t rely on handwritten lists or file drawers of receipts and photos, which can easily be lost or damaged.
  2. Take a video on your phone while doing a home walkthrough – and text the video file to yourself or upload it the cloud so it can be recovered if your device is lost. Documenting what was where before disaster struck will form a basis for documenting what you lost.
  3. Snap photos plus images of barcodes or purchase receipts for more detail on big ticket items – jewelry, artwork, electronics and appliances. Again, back up the files or send them to yourself.
  4. Hire a professional if investing your own time is an issue. They know what your insurer will need to speed the claims process, and the experience to engage the latest inventory tech and software for you.
  5. Download a home inventory app. High-quality inventory apps offer options to scan bar codes, set reminders, alerts and even tips for maintenance, like when to batteries need changing and filters cleaned or replaced. Most apps store important documents in the cloud – accessible wherever you are or the status of your dwelling.

Bonus tip: apps that specialize in high value items such as jewelry, musical instruments, art, and collectibles can help you value items, seek appraisals and even assist with finding interested buyers or locating additional pieces for your collection. 

The dynamics of the housing market in recent years has only heightened the need for homeowners to ensure they have an up-to-date and comprehensive home inventory.  During the pandemic, the ranks of U.S. homeowners grew by more than two million, many of them first time home buyers who knew little about maintaining a home. Many more homeowners embarked on renovation projects or spent more on tangible items than travel, dining out or other experiences.  Whether you’re a new owner or have been living in the same cherished abode for decades, knowing what you own and what it’s worth is a necessary part of making your insurance deliver its full value.

Ask your insurance carrier or agent to help you identify professionals who can create a home inventory for you, or recommend do-it-yourself inventory apps to download. You can also search the Chubb Trusted Service Network.

And while you’re at it, set a reminder to review your inventory seasonally and make any additions and updates to keep it current.

Nicole DiPetrillo is Vice President, Client Service Leader, Chubb Personal Risk Services

The opinions and positions expressed are the authors’ own and not those of Chubb. The information and/ or data provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Insurance coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued.