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How should you keep a home inventory?

House & Home

Posted on Monday, March 2, 2020

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Preparing a home inventory is like doing a stocktake of the items on your property. Recording all the things in your home and their value may be necessary if you’re applying for Home Contents Insurance or plan on a short-term rental of your home to holiday-goers.


Having an accurate list of possessions will help you:


  • Make applying for a claim when you need one a quick and easy process.
  • Ensure you don’t forget items when you need to make a claim and ensure you aren’t penalised for being underinsured.


What to include in a home inventory


If you’re looking for ways to spend more quality time with your loved ones, a home inventory could be a great way to do just that. It’s not just about creating a list, it’s also a great way to reminisce about what you have, when you got it and why it ‘sparks joy’. So order some pizza and get stuck in as a group! It can be helpful to start with one room and then make your way around the house instead of listing each item by category. Create a list in a notebook or on an Excel spreadsheet with the item name, when you purchased it (and from where) and its estimated value. Ask your insurance company if they can provide you with a template to use.


  • Group clothing by similarity, for example dresses, pants and shoes. Any items of higher value should be added to the list on their own.
  • Include serial numbers and information on the make or model of appliances or electronic equipment.
  • Sentimental items like jewellery or art (also collectibles) can increase in value over time. A professional valuation is a good idea for these pieces because you will receive a certificate to confirm their value. Some insurance companies require a copy of this certificate.
  • Hold on to receipts, warranties or appraisals for all your items. A good idea is to also photograph the documents and store them digitally. It may take you some time initially, but it will be a real time-saver when you need to find the information down the line. It also means the information is safe from water or fire damage, i.e. events that would require you to make an insurance claim and draw on that information. Alternatively, store a hard copy with a family member or at your place of work as a back-up.
  • Take photos of unique items such as jewellery. In the case of theft, it’s useful to supply these to the police. 
  • Don’t forget items you may have in storage off-site that will need separate insurance, or maintenance items like pool and garden equipment or tools.


Maintain the spreadsheet


A digital home inventory Excel spreadsheet is useful. You can then add new items easily. It also gives you the functionality to program the list to automatically add or adjust value estimates as your items gain or lose value over time. Remember to supply your home insurance contact with an updated spreadsheet annually.


Understanding your household insurance policy


Part of the process of creating a home inventory is ensuring you understand the terms of your household insurance policy. This will inform what you need to include in your inventory.


  • Look into whether or not they will cover the replacement of an item or the cash value in the case of a settlement. 
  • If you’re running a business from home, check with your insurer whether you need to adapt your insurance plan to accommodate this.
  • If your home is at risk of flooding or fire damage based on where you live and local conditions, discuss with your insurer whether you’re covered for these situations. For example, flooding from a nearby river may not be automatically included in your household insurance.
  • Remember that you need to keep your property maintained sufficiently to protect your household items. If your roof is poorly maintained and you experience a leak that damages items, you could find yourself turned down by your insurer when you need them most.
  • If you’re renting, you’ll need to insure the items in your home in your own insurance portfolio.
  • Laptops, tablets and mobile phones may be included in your household insurance policy. Depending on the policy, they may require additional insurance to cover their loss or damage when they’re not on the property.


A home inventory will bring you peace of mind, knowing you have a detailed record of your home contents and are clear on what you're covered for should any eventuality arise. You won’t be sorry!


The information contained in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


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