Do you have a home inventory? If not, do you know where to start? When disaster strikes, having a home inventory ready to submit may not only speed up your claims handling process, it may relieve the stress and the overwhelming burden of preparing one after the fact.

Trying to accomplish the same task after disaster occurs can become stressful and very time consuming, therefore you may want to begin working on one now. Note these tips provided by the Texas Department of Insurance website.

Whether due to fire, flood, hurricane, or other covered peril, when your personal property—also referred to as “contents” in many policies—is damaged or otherwise lost, your insurance carrier will likely require you submit an inventory of the items. Where do you begin? Think of an inventory as a record or list of lost or damaged items. You may check with your insurance agent to determine what documentation is necessary, whether receipts, photographs, or otherwise, to make a claim.

Does the task seem daunting? You may be surprised to learn there are many resources and tools at your disposal, including apps on your smart phone. Find a method that fits your needs and go from there. An app or other system will likely help you to organize and catalog the several types of personal property you may own. Some of the available tools will help you organize and catalog your contents by “room” in the home, while other tools may help you catalog by “type,” such as clothing. Find what works for you.

In a pinch and need to document now? If creating a lengthy inventory seems a bit overwhelming, begin with this simple method and expand on it. Take a home video on your smart phone or catalog your items in photographs. Be sure to open closets, drawers and cabinets. Be sure to include the attic, pool house and other structures including the garage. From pictures and videos, you can expand to incorporating and listing the corresponding receipts, serial numbers and other identifying information as well as proof of purchase if available.

Additional tips include keeping your inventory updated as you bring new items into your home and saving the inventory in various forms. If keeping an app, the program may save and upload your inventory to a cloud for safekeeping. If not, be sure you have an additional copy saved in a place you will have access to if your home and contents are damaged or otherwise compromised. Have questions about your personal items and whether you should inventory them? Speak to your agent or contact a reputable insurance professional to help answer questions you may have.