If you’re a victim of a break-in or burglary, a house fire, or another type of cataclysmic home event, it’s essential to ensure that your belongings are covered under your homeowner’s insurance plan. You’ll need to show proof of ownership and be able to provide information regarding the value of the items you need to recover. The same applies to the items in your home that are covered for repair under a home warranty.
Taking stock of the things you own will make it easier in the unfortunate event that you need to file a claim. Creating and keeping a home inventory is an excellent way to keep a record of the things that are important to you. This guide shows you how to create a home inventory so you can use it to file a home warranty or insurance claim.
Find out the details of your home warranty and insurance policy
Before making a detailed list of your home inventory, you should ask your home insurance company what’s covered under your plan. Some insurance companies need receipts for items, while a photograph and/or serial number will be sufficient for others. It’s also essential to find the specific reimbursement requirements so your claim can be approved quickly.
With a home warranty, you’ll have broad coverage that can give you peace of mind if anything ever breaks. Show your warranty company the cost and the date of purchase or repair and other key information to make it easier to get the repairs done that you need. You’ll still need to pay a small service call fee, but it’s much less costly than paying full price, especially if significant repairs are required.
What to Include in Your Home Inventory
When you’re ready to start the inventory process, record the information on your computer or online for future reference. Make a few copies of the inventory list and give a copy to a trusted friend or family member. Consider putting the data on a portable USB drive or in cloud storage protected with a password in case your computer dies or gets damaged. Take photographs and/or short videos of large or valuable items, so there’s a visual record of everything.
As for your home warranty, make sure you save all receipts for the appliances you buy and for any major home upgrades you make. Take a photo of or record the serial number for your appliances since you’ll need to provide these to the home warranty company in most cases. This type of warranty can protect you if you don’t have an emergency fund or cash reserves designated for home repairs.
As you document your home inventory, do so one room at a time to make the home inventory process more straightforward. Only move on to the next room when you’re finished documenting the inventory in the first one, and so on. Notate any special items that might be worth more, such as jewelry, firearms, and antiques. Here are some key items to include in your home inventory list:
- All furniture, including tables, chairs, sofas, and beds, as well as mattresses and bedding
- Electronics, computers, home security items, and stereo equipment
- Major and minor appliances (i.e., oven, dishwasher, washing machine, microwave, dryer, refrigerator, etc.).
- Tools and toolboxes, lawn and garden equipment, and sporting equipment
- Clothing, especially valuable clothing like designer handbags and shoes, furs, or vintage clothing
- Jewelry, coins, gold and silver, artwork, fine china, and crystal
- Collector’s items (trading cards, signed memorabilia, etc.).
The more details you can provide about your belongings, the easier it will be to have them repaired or replaced later. You can also do a quick “inventory” of the home itself. Snap photos of the home’s exterior, roof, basement, foundation, and garage or shed. These photos can help your adjuster get a clear picture of the home’s original condition before the damage took place.
Your home insurance policy should cover even the items you have in a separate storage facility, so remember to include them in your inventory. Backup your files so you can easily access them after a disaster, theft, or when a major breakdown occurs.
Home Warranties: What to Know
Homeowner’s insurance repairs or replaces your home’s structure and any belongings damaged or lost due to theft. A home warranty is different because it covers the cost of repairs or replacements for major appliances and systems in your home if they break down. The average home warranty costs anywhere from $300 to $500 per year, but it’s a small price if your home is filled with expensive appliances and other upgrades. Here are some examples of what a standard home warranty should cover:
- Air conditioning and heating systems (HVAC) and related components
- Central vacuum systems
- Water heaters
- Electrical systems and wiring, ceiling fans
- Pipes and plumbing
- Appliances including the garage door opener, washer and dryer, microwave, dishwasher, oven range, refrigerator, and trash compactor
Different home warranty providers have different levels of coverage and various requirements for claims to be approved. Make sure you read the home warranty policy carefully to ensure that it’s providing you with the coverage you need for the price you’re paying. Use your home inventory list to record information about the appliances and systems mentioned above. That way, the home warranty company can see when items were purchased or installed or when you made repairs. It’s important to note that a home warranty does not cover things like your roof and foundation. Take photos of these areas and add them to your home inventory if you need to file a homeowner’s insurance claim.
Homeowner’s Insurance: Get the Facts
Homeowner’s insurance isn’t required, but most lenders won’t approve a mortgage without a policy. Whether you’re paying on your home or own it outright, having homeowner’s insurance is always a good idea. This type of policy protects you in a range of disasters, including fires, storm damage, and even theft. The coverage you receive depends on several factors, including where you live, your coverage limits, and the type of policy you choose. Here are some of the most common things covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy:
- The structure of your home, outbuildings, and contents of the home
- Personal property like furniture, electronics, appliances, and clothing
- Valuable items like jewelry, coins, and collectibles
- Living expenses to provide you with shelter (some policies also offer per diem for food) in case your home becomes uninhabitable
- Coverage for damage from hail, fire, lightning, wind, and falling objects like trees or downed power lines
- Vandalism and theft
- Protection against liability claims if someone gets injured or hurt on your property and attempts to sue you
Think of home insurance as a policy that covers your home’s structure and all of your belongings, while a home warranty covers the repair or occasional replacement of appliances and major systems. The cost of homeowner’s insurance varies greatly and mostly depends on where you live, your home’s size and overall value, and the coverage you get. On average, a homeowner’s insurance policy costs between $500 and $1,500 per year. If you’re paying a mortgage, the cost of your plan will be included in your monthly mortgage payment as part of your escrow. If you live in a flood zone, you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance plan offered by the National Flood Insurance Program. Every homeowner should have some type of homeowner’s insurance policy to protect their house and belongings. If you’re planning to sell your home, a home warranty can be an excellent way to attract potential buyers. Home warranties provide people with peace of mind, and they’re more likely to buy a home with a warranty than one without one. No matter what type of claim you need to make, creating a home inventory will ensure the process goes smoothly.