The most careful of people can be taken by surprise by the most unexpected of circumstances, whether they’re theft, weather damage or fire. In those trying times, anyone would be hard-pressed to recall their exact possessions for the sake of insurance, and it’s very likely that you’ll miss something out that you’ll remember too late.
Save yourself time and stress by filling out an inventory during the insurance application process. Not only will you get a better understanding of your possessions, but you may even save money – the Association of British Insurers estimates that around 20% of households in the UK are at risk of underinsurance due to insufficient inventories, meaning potential bills of many thousands of pounds at the worst possible time.
If you’ve got no idea where to start, use our simple guide to help you through the process:
Before you start your inventory, make sure you’re aware of everywhere you need to check. There are the obvious places that you’ll notice during your walkthrough – but what about on top of wardrobes? Under the bed? Any attic space? Take into account all of these spaces, and then plan out your route.
The most common way to sort your items is by room (‘Kitchen’, ‘Master Bedroom’ etc.). If you possess a lot of portable items that don’t belong to a particular room, such as laptops and mobiles, you should temporarily assign them a logical ‘home’ for the purposes of the inventory.
Your inventory is one of the most valuable documents you’ll own – so make sure you treat it that way. Ensure that you have a secure location which is immune to both fire damage and theft – a safe would be the ideal choice.
Go through each room slowly and methodically. You’ll want to take stock of everything – don’t forget to include storage cabinets and their contents separately.
For your more valuable items, such as designer shoes, collectables or works of art, it’s definitely worth getting these independently valued and adding them to the inventory separately and individually.
For large quantities of items of approximately equal value, such as clothes, it makes sense to generalise and give a total value. Group the items initially by room, then person, then type and amount (jeans x5, shirts x6 and so on). Other bulk items to consider include DVDs and books.
Give your inventory a visual reference point to help with any future claims. Get an overview photo, then take individual shots of the valuables or points of interest.
This one sounds simple, but it will require a certain level of discipline. When you buy something new, add it to the inventory, ideally with a receipt. Likewise, if you throw an item out, remove it from the inventory. If doing this on a regular basis sounds too time-consuming, try to give your property a walkthrough at least once annually, repeating the above tips.
Lastly, make sure that you have at least one physical and one electronic copy stored elsewhere in or outside the property – the latter preferably online. This allows for easier access and a fall-back if the original is lost or destroyed.