Keeping a home inventory has always been a good idea for insurance purposes, but now technology is making it easier than ever.
If you are the owner of an iPad or iPhone, you may want to check out the free Know Your Stuff App from the Insurance Information Institute (III). If you do not own either of these devices, there is also an online web-based version at the Know Your Stuff website, a free tool to help you keep an up to date list of your home inventory.
The application allows you to set up your belongings by room, making lists of everything you own so you have a good replacement record in the event of a loss or a disaster. Furthermore, you can upload photographs of your belongings, scanned receipts or appraisal forms, and generate several types of reports in case you need to file a claim. All of this information is web-based, very handy to access from anywhere in case you need to evacuate your home in a hurry. This way your home inventory is always secure and easily accessible when you need it most.
In addition to simplifying the process of filing a claim, keeping a home inventory will also help to ensure that you purchase the right amount of insurance. III says, “Having an accurate list of your possessions allows you to have a more productive conversation with your insurance agent or company representative when making decisions about homeowners or renters insurance coverage.”
For comparative purposes, you might also check out the Home Inventory app from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It’s called myHOME Scr.APP.book and it’s available for both iPhones and Android devices. Also, see another previous post about home inventory apps.
Our last post dealt with various tools and technologies for keeping home inventories, and we just learned about a free new app for iPhones. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) have introduced myHOME Scr.APP.book, a tool that lets you capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers. It looks great. You can see a brief 2 minute video demo below and you can get tips from NAIC’s InsureU on how to create a home inventory. And if you don’t have an iPhone, there’s always the low-tech method, which works too. NAIC offers a Home inventory checklist.
Also, be sure to check our our last blog post for other alternatives.
Tech reviewer Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times recently ran a roundup of apps for home inventories, along with his commentary of the pros and the cons for each system. Manjoo comes from a perspective of organizing and managing possessions, and inventorying as a potential first step in simplifying your life. For those of us in the insurance world, there’s another practical purpose to home inventories that can be summed up in two words: Risk management. Should you suffer theft, fire or some other type of loss, having a record of your valuables will help you – whether you need to file a claim, apply for disaster relief, or document losses for tax purposes.
Manjoo reviews several apps for both mobile phones and PCs, with options running from $4.99 to $50. Some have useful features, such as warranty trackers and the ability to upload and annotate photos from your phone. But most require a fair amount of work entering the details manually. One Mac program that he found has bar code scanning ability which simplifies the process, at least for your new possessions.
Whatever system you use, it’s important to keep things current, as James Lynch points out in his post What’s in your house? at the Insurance Information Institute’s blog Terms + Conditions. And he reminds us about Know Your Stuff, a free online home inventory service from III. The following video offers a good introduction.
Whether you rent or own, it’s critically important to know your stuff. Do you have a home inventory of all your possessions? According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), about half of those recently surveyed do not.
Nick Hytrek talks about the importance of logging your possessions in a recent article in the Sioux City Journal, and notes that the post-holiday period is a good time to start one or update any that may exist:
“It’s a lot easier to take inventory now rather than after a fire has gutted your home. There’s enough to think about without having to try to remember everything you owned once the insurance adjuster arrives.
“After a fire, they basically hand you a piece of paper and a pencil and say write down all your possessions,” said Wynn Gochenour, executive adminstrator at Paul Davis Restoration. “Most people don’t do it beforehand, but wish they would have.”
We’ve previously suggested Know Your Stuff, a free online tool issued by the Insurance Information Institute, that is great for this purpose. It offers a room-by-room inventory system that allows you to create, view, save, and print real time reports. You can learn more about this inventory system in a brief video clip. Hytek’s article also notes that there are national companies that will come in and do home inventories and valuation for you – a service that might be worth it if you have expensive collections.
Hytek offers the following tips for taking a home inventory, sourced from NAIC:
Document each item as completely as possible, including brand and model number.
Include receipts and/or canceled checks to prove what you paid for items.
Remember to include items you don’t use regularly, such as holiday decorations, sports equipment or tools.
Review your insurance policy to know what is covered and whether your possessions are insured for actual cash value (the amount it would take to replace or repair the item after depreciation) or for replacement cost (the amount it would take to repair or replace the item without deducting for depreciation).
For rare or valuable items such as jewelry, antiques or art, you may want to consider adding additional insurance — a rider — to your policy.
Keep the completed list outside of your home. Store it at your office, a family member’s house or safe-deposit box.
Planning to get or give a flat screen TV, a new laptop, or a smart phone this holiday season? If so, you aren’t alone. For the first time in more than 25 years, electronics are virtually tied with toys as the top Christmas gift item, according to holiday shopping polls conducted by America’s Research Group. CEO Britt Beemer says, “Electronics sales, especially flat-panel TV sets, are flying out the door this Christmas season.”