How readily can you name your 10 most valued possessions, the year in which you acquired them, or their estimated value? If you’re like most Canadians, not very easily. In fact, many of us are drastically underprepared when it comes to documenting our belongings with a home inventory, especially one-of-a-kind items, and possessions with sentimental value. Of course, we don’t plan to make a claim when taking out homeowner or tenant insurance. Instead of scrambling to put necessary information together after a break-in, flood, fire, or similar unfortunate events, take a proactive approach and minimize your stress.
Fortunately, putting together a detailed home inventory is a lot less complicated than it once was. Today’s technology lets us do away with tabbed spreadsheets or stacks of papers and printed photos. Here’s how to make the claim process much smoother if trouble arises.
Choose Your Tools
If you’re a traditionalist who prefers the pen and paper approach, head over to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and grab their pre-made list to kickstart a thorough home inventory. Just make sure that your final list is kept away from your house in a safe deposit box, or with a trusted friend or family member.
At Johnston Meier, we’re fans of letting technology do the heavy lifting. If you own a smartphone, you’ve got several built-in tools at your disposal, as well as a number of free apps available to download. To begin, you’ll be using your camera to capture clear photos of every valued item you want to insure, and store them in whichever cloud service you prefer. Note-taking apps like Evernote and Google Keep are robust and can actually do much more than create shopping lists, or jot down your latest idea. Try using these tools to capture photos of your belongings, add a description, then label it with a room name. Once you have clear images, be even more meticulous: take a video. Pro tip – save tons of time by narrating your video with a description of the item you’re recording. This is especially effective if you work systematically, going room by room. We promise you don’t need to be the next Steven Spielberg to get the job done – you’re on an information-gathering mission.
iOS users (iPhone, iPad) can take advantage of specialized apps, like Sortly, dubbed “the ultimate organizer app”, which is geared specifically for creating a home inventory. You can also use it to create a business inventory, organize collectibles, or prepare for an upcoming move. If you’re an Android user, you can try Magic Home Inventory. As the name suggests, this app was created with home inventory in mind and has similar capabilities for listing, indexing, and sorting items.
Often Overlooked Details
Once you have photo and video proof of your belongings gathered, make sure you’ve made note of any relevant serial or model numbers. To further substantiate a claim, organize and store any warranty documents, receipts, or appraisal documents in a secure location. When you receive a gift or make an important purchase throughout the year be sure to update your inventory accordingly. We’ll be delving into more detail about getting your jewelry appraised and insured in an upcoming post. Lastly, and very importantly, be sure to contact us with any policy questions, as well as inform us of any new items that should be noted and updated in your policy.
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