BBB: Home inventory should top consumers’ to-do list

04/13/2013 7:02 AM

04/13/2013 7:02 AM

Kansans have many reasons to take the time to make a list of their homes’ contents: stormy weather, fire threats and home burglaries, not to mention smaller catastrophes such as waterline flood damage. Imagine the trauma such events can induce, multiplied by the stress of having your insurance company tell you to list everything that was lost or damaged, including the amount you paid for it.

Odds are that you will forget many items and cheat yourself out of the proper settlement that is due you. The current spring-cleaning season is the perfect time to catalog your belongings.

A home inventory list will need to be a complete record of everything in every room of your house or apartment. Here is what it ideally would contain:

• A visual record of each room’s content, either photos or a video will do.
• A list of the items.
• How much you paid for each item and where it was purchased.
• Receipts or cancelled checks if available.
• Brand, model number and serial number whenever possible.
• Incidental belongings such as clothes and shoes.
• Contents of attics and basements, garages and storage sheds. Include seasonal items like Christmas decorations and rarely used items like tools.

An old-fashioned pencil, paper and camera can still work, but other more efficient means of making your home inventory list are available.

Check with your insurance company to see what aids they have. Most now have online tools like State Farm’s HomeIndex that walks you through the inventory process and allows you to share the information with your agent.

Using a digital inventory can save you from having file boxes full of photos, receipts and instruction manuals. Many home inventory apps are available that allow you to input your items’ details, such as a receipt copy, a picture, description, how much it’s worth, how much you paid and where you purchased the item.

Reliable storage for your list is especially important. A digital list can be saved on the cloud or on a digital storage device like a disc or a thumb drive, and stored away from your home for added security. Consider saving it in a safe deposit box, at your place of work or at a friend or relative’s home. Remember that the same catastrophe that destroys your home may also destroy the list that’s stored in your home.

Here is a partial list of home inventory apps now available:

• MyStuff2 Lite is free but only allows 15 items to be listed. The Pro Version is $8.99, allowing an unlimited number. Both versions utilize barcode scanning and Amazon integration.
• Visual Inventory allows you to take pictures of a room and tag the items within it. It is a free app.
• MyHome Lite has a 10-item limit for free and a Pro Version for $3.99.
• Know Your Stuff Home Inventory is a free app from the Insurance Information Institute that allows backup to the cloud.

The home inventory chore can seem daunting. It is an important endeavor, however, and one that consumers in Kansas should move to the front burner. If catastrophe strikes, don’t compound your woes by letting your ill preparedness cheat you out of the compensation you deserve.

If you have questions about creating your home inventory, contact the Better Business Bureau at 800-856-2417 or visit our website at www.kansasplains.bbb.org.

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