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How to make a home inventory (and why you need to start one today)

03 August 2022

How to make a home inventory (and why you need to start one today)

If someone asked you to list everything in your house off the top of your head, do you think you could do it? What about if they asked for the specific model of your television, or the price you paid for your dining table? Don’t worry, you’re not alone if you don’t know the entire contents of your home in detail. But this is the sort of information you’ll need on hand should you need to claim your Contents Insurance in case of a disaster such as fire or theft.

Most people grossly underestimate how much stuff they have, and the value of their possessions. Whether you’re a home renter or a homeowner, you need a home contents inventory.

A home inventory is a list of all of your possessions and furnishings. It is documented proof of the items you own. The main reason you should have an inventory is to make insurance claims more accurate and efficient. Making a home inventory is vital, but we know it can be daunting. We’ve put together a guide to help create and maintain a record of your entire home contents.

Start with the big things

If you only do a couple of items, make them your expensive big ticket items. Things like your fridge, television, couch and bed. Make it a habit to add any new purchases to your inventory so that it remains accurate. You can also do a video walk-through on your phone to make a record of the major items in your house. Make this an annual activity so that you are maintaining an accurate record of the large, expensive items.

Add detail

In an ideal situation, you’ll have a copy of receipts for every item in your house. But the chances are many of those receipts have long since faded or been thrown away and you may have even bought some items second hand without a receipt in the first place. The next best thing is to include as much detail as possible in your inventory. Recording things such as the brand, model, date purchased and cost, will help to value or replace items when lodging a claim. Photographs of items are also useful, especially if you don’t know much about them.

Technology helps

A traditional hardcopy of your inventory on paper is okay but it has limitations. You’ll need to make sure a copy is stored away from your home. You’ll also need to regularly update it and replace your off-site copy as well. Luckily, there are a number or apps which make inventory recording easy.  Some popular apps include HouseBook, Sortly, and MyStuff2. All of these have a free version, but to make sure you can add as much information as possible, it’s worth upgrading to a paid version. You can also use an online file storage app such as Dropbox or Google Drive to make your own inventory. Make sure you name files clearly so you can easily find photos or receipts when needed.

As useful as technology is for keeping a live record of your home contents, equally important is the ability to find that information when you need it. Whichever method you use, make sure you know how to run an ‘export’ or how to login and access your information in case of emergency. 

Group items like crockery and clothing

You don’t need to give details for every item in your wardrobe or kitchen cupboard. Simply saying ‘18 piece Maxwell and Williams dinner set’ will be useful enough without identifying each thing individually. The same goes for clothing. Unless you have a particularly expensive item, you can group clothing when you record it, for example listing 5 x wool jumpers or 3 x jeans. This will help you to capture many items at once, giving enough detail to be useful, but not getting bogged down in recording and estimating each piece.

Keep an eye on valuables

Some valuable items such as jewellery, memorabilia, antiques or other heirlooms may need to be appraised if you don’t have a record of their value. Keep any appraisal records somewhere safe and ideally store a digital copy as well. It’s important that you know your insurance coverage.

Don’t do it all at once

If you aim to document the whole house, top to bottom, in one go, it’s highly likely you’ll get overwhelmed and never finish. Instead, start small. Pick one spot to start such as a kitchen cupboard, and start to document the house cupboard by cupboard, room by room. Doing one small piece a day is much more achievable than going for it all in one go.

Don’t forget items in storage

Home contents items that are out of sight, are out of mind, so make sure you seek out the things you’ve packed away in storage. Your garage likely has expensive tools and maybe even sporting or camping equipment. All things that may one day need replacing. Make sure you check your shed, under the house, attic or any other places where you store little-used items and add them to your list. If you have items in a storage facility they may still be covered, but you will need to alert your insurance provider and keep an accurate record of what’s in there.

Creating and maintaining a home inventory doesn’t need to be a daunting task. Take it bit by bit, starting with big items and ideally using an app or technology to help you. That way, if you ever need to make a claim on your contents insurance, you’ll have all the information you need readily at hand.

To make sure your valuables are covered, check out NRMA Home Contents Insurance.

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Contents Insurance
Inventory