Household inventory — well worth the time

Would I be covered under my homeowners policy if I am sued by someone who was seriously injured on my property?

What is a household inventory and why do I need one?

A household inventory could prove invaluable if you lost some or all of your household belongings in a fire, burglary or natural disaster. A household inventory is a list of all the personal belongings in your home including when and where you bought each item, their original cost and any identifying information, such as model or serial numbers. For an investment of just a few hours, you can survey your belongings and be prepared in the event of a loss.

How do I take my own inventory?

There are three basic steps. First, list all of your major belongings and furnishings, room by room. Record a brief description, any serial numbers, purchase prices and dates and current value. Attach any receipts and appraisals.

The second step is to back up your inventory list with photographs or video. Take photos or videotape every room, with closet or cabinet doors open. Note the date, contents shown and location.

Third, store the inventory and photographs/videotape in a safe place away from your home, such as in a safe-deposit box in a bank. Keeping a copy of the list or tape at home is fine, but it is wise to keep the original inventory and receipts in a secure location in case a fire or natural disaster destroys your home. Of course, you should likewise protect certain valuables and hard-to-replace documents such as deeds, bonds, stocks and insurance policies by storing them in a safe-deposit box.

You also should be aware homeowners policies generally limit the amount of coverage on fine jewelry, furs, silver and other possessions of high value. For these types of possessions, you may want to purchase additional coverage in the form of personal article floater policies.

These are general recommendations. For the best advice on your personal insurance needs, call our agency.

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