In this increasingly digital age, we are prepared to back up records of our electronic information easily and readily, but we often forget to do the same for our tangible goods. Why keep records of your possessions? Because if theft or damage occurs, you will simplify your life a great deal by knowing what it is exactly that you have lost. For one thing, it will help you to settle your insurance claim more quickly, and will help you to replace your goods with minimal disruption to your routine. More than half of Canadians do not maintain inventories of their goods which puts them at risk for inadequate home insurance if they should find themselves facing large scale loss. Here’s how to make sure you don’t fall into that wrong half.
Start simply: set up a table where you can list the various items you have, and make columns for various details that you would like to record (for example: descriptions, brands, model numbers, serial numbers, date and place of purchase). Store a hard copy of your list in a folder along with relevant receipts, appraisals, and any other type of paperwork you may have. You may also find it useful to photograph the items as you catalogue them.
The biggest mistake you can make with tackling a home inventory is to adopt an attitude of passive perfectionism (“if I can’t do a perfect job of it, I won’t do it at all). Putting together a complete inventory for a large household can be very intimidating…but a partial list is far better than no list at all. If it makes things easier, work backwards: start by recording recent purchases, which you can still recall relatively well, and work your way back as far as you can remember. As you move back towards earlier purchases, keep in mind that items like antiques and coins are likely worth more now than they were when you first acquired them, so consider getting them appraised. You may also want to verify with your insurance agent that your plan covers loss and damage to these items.
Once you have completed your inventory, make sure your hard work is protected by properly storing your lists. Leave hard copies with relatives or friends, and keep digital records close at hand as well.
As you go about completing your inventory, try not to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. If you commit to recording a few items every day, you will have a fairly accurate list in no time.