Imagine how difficult it would be to list all your lost possessions in the aftermath of a burglary, fire, hurricane or other unexpected disaster.

Preparing an inventory in advance could take pressure off during a difficult time and help facilitate the insurance claims process so you can replace your belongings quickly and efficiently. In 2019, more than 5% of insured homes had a claim, yet only about half of homeowners say they’ve taken this important step.

Document items and values

You can make a list the old-fashioned way with paper and pen, or you can take photos or videos – or use all three methods. You might simply walk through your home videotaping with a smartphone and narrating as you go.

If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of documenting everything, start with your most valuable items. For a broader approach, you might document everything in one room before moving to another. If you’re taking photos or videos, capture wider images of the room and then focus on the most valuable items individually. Don’t forget to open drawers, closets, and cabinets so the contents are visible.

Gather receipts and/or appraisals for your most valuable items. If you don’t have a receipt or appraisal, you might find a similar item online and print out information including its price or estimated value. Be sure you have appropriate coverage. Standard policies typically have relatively low limits on items such as jewelry, fine art and computer equipment. For appliances and electronic equipment, detail the brand, model, and serial number.

For more common items, you could list the general type and quantity of similar items. For example, you might list the number of coats, dresses, pants, shirts, shoes, etc., and note any items of special value.

Digitize, save and update

A digital record stored on your mobile device and/or online may enable you to update and access the information easily, even if you can’t enter your home. Scan or take digital photos of your inventory list, receipts, and other important documents so they can be stored electronically. Many mobile apps are available to help with the process.

If you don’t digitize, keep copies of any physical documentation in a safe place outside of your home or in a safe-deposit box. Be sure to update your inventory regularly, particularly when you obtain valuable items.

Make a weekend project of documenting your belongings, and you might sleep easier knowing you’re prepared. Your inventory may also help you determine the appropriate amount of coverage for your valuable items and verify any future losses for tax purposes. Contact your insurance agent if you have questions about personal property coverage.

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This information is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek guidance from an independent tax or legal professional. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2021 Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.