Home Inventory Guide: What Is It and Why You Need One Now

What is a home inventory?

We don’t often realize it, but we accumulate so many things throughout our lifetime. Every so often, we cycle through new belongings—from big-ticket items like a new car, furniture, and appliances, to everyday items like clothing and other little things. 

Then, there are investment pieces: art, jewelry, watches, collectibles, and more. The fact is that even with regular cleaning and discarding, these items tend to add up and become harder to keep track of. Luckily, it’s not impossible.

What is a home inventory?

Do you know everything that you own? Chances are, you don’t, and that’s how it usually is! The good news is that a home inventory can easily fix that and help you keep track of your belongings. And what better way to do this than keep a list? A home inventory is exactly that: a comprehensive list of everything you own. It’s an easy and reliable way to keep track of your assets.

Home Inventory and Home Insurance

Your home insurance covers more than just the roof over your head—it also includes your personal belongings up to a certain limit based on your coverage.

All your belongings have a specific value and can be hard to replace when lost to fires, theft, and other worst-case scenarios. This is where your home inventory comes in. Not only does it help you stay organized, but it also plays an important role in accessing your home insurance coverage. 

Replacement Coverage

A fire, water damage, or theft in Alberta is stressful and even traumatic; it’s worse if you and your loved ones are injured. As you recover, it won’t be easy to remember everything you lost and need to replace. 

A detailed list of your belongings complete with values, images, and make and model information helps you prove that you own these items and need to replace them. Cross-reference what was lost against what survived the damage. Submit it to your insurance provider as part of your claim, and receive the replacement value based on the specified policy limits.

Coverage Limits

Compiling a detailed home inventory also helps you choose the right home insurance coverage. For example, if your inventory shows that your assets exceed the base policy limit for personal belongings, then it would be wise to opt for additional coverage. 

Make sure to update it periodically, such as when you purchase or dispose of certain belongings. As well, you also need to note increases in value, particularly for items like art and jewelry, which appreciate greatly over time. 

Remember that your home insurance coverage is subject to policy wording, terms, conditions, and deductibles, and protection is limited to the perils, coverage, exclusions, and limits on the policy. It helps to keep your insurance broker informed so they can advise you on your evolving coverage needs and options in Alberta.

Doing so ensures that your insurance claim reflects the exact and most current replacement value. Based on this, you can also consider increasing your coverage limits to ensure that you can afford the necessary replacements.

What to Include in Your Home Inventory

Are you wondering what to list in your home inventory? The short answer is everything. 

Everything you own has a certain economic and lifestyle value, whether it’s major items like furniture, appliances, and electronics, everyday essentials like clothing, or high-value assets like art and jewelry collections. While some cost much less than others—and are easier to replace—there are always at least a few irreplaceable items.

When you think of rebuilding your home and lifestyle after a disaster in Alberta, it’s helpful to consider what you value most, especially items that would be difficult to replace and cost a lot out-of-pocket. Check out some of the basic contents of a smart home inventory:

  • Furniture and appliances
  • Electronics and smart devices
  • Art, jewelry, stamps, coins, and other valuable collections
  • Musical instruments
  • Books
  • Sporting equipment
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Gardening equipment
  • Home decor
  • Clothing, bags, and shoes

How-To: Home Inventory Details

Now that you have a good idea of what’s useful to include in your home inventory, the next step is to create the list. Because this is probably the most important list you’ll make and keep, it’s not just a running tally of everything you own.

To be useful, your home inventory must list complete details. These include an item’s make and model, physical characteristics, and value. Check out this quick guide to setting up your home inventory:

  • Full value: List the full value of each item, not their sale price to ensure full replacement value in your claim.
  • Item details: A description of the item, including its brand or manufacturer, model, year, serial number, colour, and other physical characteristics, as well as any customizations made and their value.
  • Date and proof of purchase: If possible, include receipts as proof of ownership.
  • Warranties: Include warranty information.

Here are some tips for compiling this information in your home inventory:

  • Take photos and videos: Label and date photos to support the item description. Try documenting these in recognizable areas in your home as further proof of ownership.
  • Room by room inventory: Doing a complete home inventory is hard work. Make it easier on yourself by taking it one room at a time, which also helps you keep track of where each item is located.
  • Scan copies: Keep a digital record of receipts as backup, and store the originals in a safe place.
  • Get creative: Spreadsheets aren’t your thing? Try an app. These days, there are countless home organization resources available. You can even check if your home insurance provider has a template that you can easily fill out with all the information they would need in the event of a claim.

To learn more about the benefits of a home inventory in your home insurance coverage, contact Bow Valley Insurance in Alberta for a free, no-obligation quote.