We purchase insurance to protect us from what might happen. Hopefully we go through life, never having to make a claim against our Homeowners insurance or Auto insurance policies. We know that the monthly or annual fee is in our best interest, even as we hope to never need its services. Taking home inventory should be just as important. This worthwhile task is yet another method of protecting ourselves against something that might never happen, but could. Yet few people place as much importance on taking home inventory as they do on increasing their Homeowners policy coverage. Although most insurance agents inform their clients about the significance of taking home inventory, it is rarely performed. Homeowners might put the task on their to-do lists, but as time goes by, and their busy lives take priority, it simply never gets accomplished. The result can be a very expensive one indeed.
So now that you realize the significance of taking home inventory, how do you get started? At first glance, it seems pretty simple. Go through your home, room by room, taking pictures of your personal belongings and documenting their approximate value. No problem, right? The problem lies in storing your photographs and data. Unfortunately, for many people, this involves placing their beautifully detailed data in a storage box under their bed, or in filing cabinets in their home office. The files are safe and sound, until the house burns down, is burglarized, or gets filled with murky flood waters — rendering the information completely useless. This common occurrence is as ironic as it is sad. But in today’s technological world, it should never happen.
Now that you understand how technology can make taking home inventory as secure as it is easy, your next step is to find the best web site or software for your unique needs. Secure servers allow you to document all of your belongings and access them with ease, and they eliminate the need for a physical location in which to store them.
Important factors to consider when deciding on the most suitable home inventory site:
Although many options boil down to personal choice, the options below are helpful regardless of your unique situation.
- Make sure your site or software allows you to quickly and easily select information about the products in your home.
- It is very helpful if the system is pre-populated with items, based on room and category. For example, Bedroom: Bed, Dresser, Night Stand, Lamp, etc.
- You might want to look at the total amount of inventory you have by room, or you might want to see items by category, or it’s possible you prefer a complete list of everything within your home. Look for functionality that allows all of these searches.
- And absolutely be certain that there is secure data storage within the web site or software. This cannot be stressed enough.
Here are some home inventory web sites to assist you in the process:
http://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html – This site provides free, secure online storage in an easy to use format. The system is very user friendly. There is a guided tour to help you navigate the system, and a video tutorial if you are someone who learns by watching. You will need to sign up to get most of the information. There is an FAQ page, but it isn’t as easy to find as on some of the other sites.
http://www.whatyouown.org – This site appears a bit “fancier” at first glance, but when you begin reading, it becomes apparent that it’s just as user friendly. The FAQ page allows you to get a lot of information without having to sign up. However, there is no video tutorial. This site is also free.
http://www.stuffsafe.com/index.php – This site is very user friendly and provides a lot of information prior to signing up. It is also free. As with the other sites, Stuff Safe allows you to print and download reports quickly and easily. The FAQ page on this site is also easy to find and navigate. However, as with the What You Own site, Stuff Safe does not have a video tutorial.
In addition to helping in the event of a theft or disaster, a home inventory also helps you to determine the appropriate amount of insurance protection. Even better, it can help you settle insurance claims faster. The actual task of performing a home inventory is quite simple. Basically, you should start with the most significant items (fine jewelry, electronics, furniture and family heirlooms, among others), and add the less expensive items, such as clothing, at the end. For every item you list, take a photograph, give a description of the item, list the date of purchase, approximate replacement value, and any other relevant information (such as serial number, make, or model). Upload this information to the home inventory software of your choice, and viola! You can rest assured that in the event of theft or disaster, you’ll be many steps ahead of the game when it comes to recovering your losses and getting your life back on track.