How Do I Do A Home Inventory for Insurance And Why?

With the Olympics coming up and other big sporting events like the World Cup coming soon, many sports enthusiasts will want to watch the games in earnest with the newest, state-of-the-art television systems. That could mean a high definition flat screen TV set will be holding court in your living room and the hard-earned R25 000 or so will be marching out of your wallet.

In the intense pleasure of watching sporting events and your favourite TV shows, you should not forget that with the purchase of the expensive TV set your household contents will now be under-insured. If anything should happen, you are at risk of suffering a significant financial loss.

The primary reason why you should undertake a home inventory regularly is to ensure that you will have a complete and updated list of all your personal property and the value of each. It should be done regularly, at least once a year, or more often when you make important purchases. Although many of us like to believe our memory is as sticky as glue, the reality is it is easy to forget the gradual accretions to our possessions and the things quietly discarded. Memory becomes even less reliable after the trauma of a disaster, natural or man-made.

1. Having a home inventory puts everything conveniently on record, and it will then be easier to add or delete items after an initial list has been prepared. More importantly, a home inventory helps you settle claims with your insurer.

2· Unless you have this detailed list, you cannot determine exactly what is missing from your home — stolen during a burglary or destroyed after a flood or fire. This may make it more laborious to prove the loss of items when you make a claim.

3· The home inventory also records the replacement value of your possessions. This becomes the basis of the insurance cover provided in your household insurance. The home inventory thus makes it possible to determine the exact amount of your loss from an unexpected event, and to get full reimbursement of its value from the insurer.

4· A home inventory makes it easier to provide supporting documentation when you file a police report. The police report is necessary to make a claim from the insurer.

If you do not already have a home inventory, making one for the first time will be quite tedious. It will be a lot easier the next time around, not least because you have already undergone the exercise. Here are some tips:

1· Devise an inventory list form using the spreadsheet/word processor program in your computer. Provide columns for item description, quantity, and assessed/replacement value. Alternatively, you can download an inventory form from the website of household insurance providers. Print the form.

2· Complete your inventory of items in one room before moving to the next room. Do not forget to include things stored in cupboards and drawers.

3. Take photographs of all rooms in the house, the garage, outbuildings, or other places in the property where you store your possessions. Make sure that the photos of items to be insured come out very clear.

4. Include items that you keep in other storage units, like a safe or safe-deposit boxes.

5. Note down the make, model, and serial numbers of white goods and other major appliances. If you can still find them, compile the invoices, owner’s manual, and other purchase documents. For new purchases, make sure you keep these documents. This applies to big items like appliances or small but pricey things like jewellery or video camera.

6. Include things of value like leather jackets, your stamp collection, art pieces, expensive footwear, rugs, etc.

7. To fill in data about the value of an item, you will need current replacement values. It will be helpful to check store catalogues or websites that contain price information, e.g. online shopping or auction sites.

Keep one copy of your finalised inventory at home. But do not forget to keep an extra copy of your home inventory in a safe, accessible place away from your home.