Why You Need a Home Inventory and Good Ways To Get It Done

In my kitchen, on a piece of dated paper stuck in an old cookbook, I have my Grami's handwritten family recipe for "chruscikis". Around the holidays, she would make these feather light, crispy pastry bows sprinkled with powdered sugary goodness for our family to enjoy. This sweet artifact is precious to me- it serves as 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. Likewise, though the recipe has no real dollar value, it has become a one-of-a-kind treasure to me.

Here at NNINS, we assist our members with home claims every day when treasures like my great grandmother’s recipe get damaged or lost. Occasionally, the total loss of a home occurs for a member and it’s truly heartbreaking. In the aftermath, we are privileged to have the opportunity to help our members rebuild and get things as back to normal as possible.

You always hear- "They're just things, and things can be replaced". So true! But imagine losing your home and ALL your belongings - family photos and heirlooms, furniture, electronics - to a fire or weather disaster. As we begin the claims process, there’s important information we need to know about the replacement value of what was lost, especially inside the home.

Now imagine trying to recall every item inside your home from memory. 

That's why a home inventory is so important. It doesn't matter if you live in a single-family home or rent an apartment, a record of the contents of your home, when in place, simplifies and expedites the claims process immensely. The essential parts of a home inventory should include lists, photos, video recordings and receipts where possible. But there's really only one rule of thumb:

The more documentation available, the more efficient the claim process will be.

Other than that, we've got a few more tips to help you create a solid 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 one that suits your needs by searching "home inventory" in your app store. Here's an example of a free app offered by The National Association of Insurance Commissioners:

2. Buy and Download Software or a Checklist

You can also purchase home inventory software for your PC or do it the old-fashion way and print a ready made list to record your belongings. Adding receipts and pictures to your document will make it complete. Be sure to also check out #4 below!

3. Don't Forget Hidden Valuables

Open those drawers! Remember jewelry, antiques, and important items that may be put away or stored in your basement, attic or garage. Seasonal items that get put away for large parts of the year are important to record too!

4. Makes Copies

Don't forget to store a copy of your inventory on paper or thumb drive in a fire proof safe or another location away from home in case your computer is destroyed, like with a good friend, family member or in a safety deposit box. You can also send one to us and we'll keep it for you!

5. Update Regularly

Keep your inventory up-to-date especially when large or expensive purchases are made 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. You want to be sure that new item is included under your coverage.

We hope you never have such a devastating experience. But if you do, we'll be there to help you get back on your feet. During a tragic loss, it’s comforting to know that you have all that valuable information store in one place! So just in case, get your home inventory in place today and have peace of mind that you'll be prepared for the most efficient claim process.

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