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The List Of Your Life

“Try itemizing every single thing you’ve owned for the past 20 years.”

That’s a Facebook posting by a friend whose family recently lost their home in a late-night fire.

Having an itemized inventory can be a lifesaver when a home is damaged by fire, flooding, or storms, or when burglars make off with valuables. Now some online tools make the process easier—which means you’ll be less likely to postpone the task until it’s too late.


Use the Internet for your inventory

Create a detailed list of what you own, and use a digital camera to take color photographs of valuables. Make a room-by-room record and be sure to get a variety of shots—showing the room as a whole plus closeups of individual items, including serial numbers or the markings on the bottom of china or sterling. Another option is to use a video camera to also record audio descriptions of each item.

Don’t forget to document items stored in closets or outside the main rooms, such as in a basement or attic, garage, or storage shed. And think comprehensively—including appliances, computers and electronics, seasonal or decorative items, sports equipment, and patio furniture.

Be sure to store copies of any photographs or videos made in a safe place outside the home, such as with a relative or in a safety deposit box. Even with images, an insurance company will likely require a written list with as much detail as possible, including purchase date and price, estimated value, serial numbers, brand name, and model information.


Your insurance agent can help

Some insurance companies offer free online tools for homeowners to create inventories�and other inventory software and apps are for sale on the open market. The insurance company inventories are stored in the cloud, a secure, centralized computer outside of your home, making them accessible even when a home computer is lost or destroyed. Electronic inventories can be edited, with the ability to add more items when a new purchase is made. The list can be e-mailed to your insurance agent or printed out and stored in a safe place. If you have a scanner, copies of written records can be scanned in and added to the list, such as receipts, copies of credit card statements for a big purchase, or appraisals for jewelry or art.

Remember, this is not a one-time project. Be sure to regularly update your inventory list after making a new purchase. It may also be a good idea to share your list with your insurance agent, to make sure your coverage on particularly valuable items, such as jewelry or antiques, is sufficient.

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