Take fifteen minutes today and video inventory the personal property and finishes in your home.

One of the most daunting tasks following a residential loss is creating a personal property inventory. For larger losses, the amount of time required to properly document damaged and destroyed items to recover all benefits owed under the policy may equate to a part-time job. An added hinderance to recovering all benefits owed, especially following fire damage claims, is accurately recalling the personal property you have accrued over the years.

Do yourself a favor and be proactive – take 15 minutes today and make a video inventory of your personal property and interior home finishes (if you have the time to create a written list, all the better). Keep the following tips in mind:

  • If using a smart phone, video inventory one room at a time so that you can easily send and save the each video;
  • Open and record the contents of all drawers, cabinets, storage containers, and closets;
  • Include the make, model, and serial number, if applicable (especially for electronics);
  • Include clothing tags that show the brand;
  • Remove coverings from furniture (e.g., tablecloths on the kitchen table or sheets on the mattress to expose the tags);
  • Don’t forget storage bins in the basement, tools in the garage, or Christmas ornaments in the attic;
  • Include video of the room’s finishes and fixtures (helpful in the event of a total loss to identify trim, floor coverings, cabinet style);
  • Complete and update your video inventory at least once a year.

When you complete the video inventory, save it to an external location accessible if your contents are destroyed. Do not exclusively save the video inventory on your phone or laptop. Consider emailing it to yourself or a relative or saving it to a cloud-based storage service.

This suggestion is not only for the average policyholder, but also for claim professionals that may have also overlooked completing this simple task. I speak from experience. During a recent move, a portion of my personal property items were misplaced by the moving company and I was required to create an inventory. Luckily, the items were later found and returned to me. I was given the unique opportunity to compare my inventory list to the items that were returned. I had only captured about two-thirds of the total items. Had my property not been found, I would have left thousands of dollars on the table. I now have a video inventory, just in case.

If you need any more convincing, make a list of all the items in your bedroom closet at this moment, without looking, with as much detail as you can. Then compare your list to the actual items in your closet. Now try the same for a small storage closet that you are not in and out of every day. The results may surprise you.

You can find similar tips and general guidance on personal property inventories in our past blogs,1 and even find discussion on smart phone applications that can assist in the process.

Also be sure to check out what United Policyholders, a San Francisco based non-profit organization providing free insurance information for policyholders, has to offer. This includes How To Create A Home Inventory and Home Inventory and Contents Claim Tips.

It’s better to complete a 15-minute video inventory and never need it than to find yourself in a situation wishing you had. As John Trusler’s adage goes, there’s no time like the present – check this task off of your to-do list today.
1 Contents Inventory Smart Phone App and Documenting Your Personal Property, Part I.
2 Contents Inventory Smart Phone App and Documenting Your Personal Property, Part II.