know what you’ve got—just in case
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that the idea of my house burning down has always made me extremely nervous. Aside from being a really unfortunate disaster, some of my most prized possessions are journals and notebooks filled with handwritten memoirs that could never be replaced. But in all honesty, most of the things you own can be replaced and are covered under your homeowner’s insurance. And there are ways to safeguard your non-replaceable things too. The secret is to plan ahead by keeping a home inventory.
What’s an inventory?
The most straightforward answer is a spreadsheet of everything you own. And I mean everything. Why? Simple:
- In the event of a burglary or a natural disaster, this list will make settling your insurance claims as fast and hassle-free as possible.
- You can know for sure that you’re not over- or under-insuring your belongings.
- It allows you to identify, protect, and buy additional coverage for valuables that aren’t covered by your insurance.
How do I make one?
Probably the easiest method is to go room by room and create a spreadsheet on your laptop of everything in each room. Taking pictures of your items, videotaping your inventory, and including brand names and serial numbers of the products on your spreadsheet is a great idea too. Once you’ve completed your inventory, add the date to your file name and email it to yourself. An inventory will do you no good if the laptop it’s stored on gets consumed in flames too.
How often should I update my inventory?
Ideally? Whenever something new enters your house. Realistically? Probably once or twice a year. January would be a good time to take a Saturday afternoon and record all the things that entered your house during the holidays.
What about the non-replaceable stuff?
Family pictures, computer files, heirlooms, original artwork, and the notebooks I mentioned earlier all fall in this category. So take measures to protect them. Make photocopies of pictures and documents, back up all the copies and everything on your computer to the cloud, and maybe consider investing in a fireproof safe or a safety deposit box. And as far as Grandmother’s self-portrait in your living room goes . . . you might just have to grab it on your way out. Check out this blog post or theburninghouse.com to get thinking about anything else you might want to save from a fire.