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In addition to the structure of your home, your Florida homeowners insurance also covers your belongings if they’re stolen or destroyed by a covered peril such as a house fire. But if you’re already stressed by a disaster, will you be able to remember what you own to make a claim? That’s why we recommend that you create a home inventory of your belongings. (It’s also a good idea to create a home inventory if you rent—renter’s policies also cover personal belongings.)

A detailed home inventory will not only make it easier to file a claim—it can also help you qualify for tax breaks or disaster assistance following a major loss.

Home inventory options

Creating a home inventory can be as simple as a handwritten list, a printable home inventory checklist, or a spreadsheet (like this one from non-profit United Policy Holders).

Another good way to create an inventory or add documentation for a written inventory, is to use your smartphone to take photos and video of your possessions. Record everything in each room, including what’s inside cabinets and drawers. Take photos of serial numbers, bar codes, brand names, and receipts if you have them. Verbally describe what you own if you’re taking video, and include where and when you bought each item and how much it cost if you know that information.

Make sure to include high-ticket items like appliances, TVs and other electronics, jewelry, rugs, art or collectibles. You don’t need to be as detailed with smaller items like clothes or kitchen basics. Make note of them (“Three pairs of jeans,” etc.), but your insurance company may create a “bulk estimate” for contents of closets or cabinets.

If you store belongings in a self-storage unit, remember to document them, too. Your homeowners insurance may also cover these items against theft or fire. You may choose to use a smartphone app to create your home inventory. There are many home inventory apps, both free and paid, and some insurance companies offer their own apps or forms to help you create your home inventory. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has created a free home inventory app that does not collect personal information. Check the privacy policy of any home inventory app you plan to use if you’re concerned about if and how your personal information might be collected and used.

If all this seems overwhelming, start slow. Record recent purchases (maybe a special holiday gift?), or choose one room to document at a time. Even a partial inventory will be helpful in case of a loss.

Storing and updating your home inventory

If you have a paper home inventory, keep a copy of it with other important documents in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box, and store a copy with a trusted friend or family member. Back up digital home inventory files on the cloud or to an external drive. Upload photos and video to a cloud-based service or email it to yourself.

Also remember to update your home inventory when you make a major purchase—and at least once a year, review it to see if anything has changed.

Review your homeowners insurance coverage

After documenting your possessions with a home inventory, review your homeowners insurance coverage to see if it continues to meet your needs. Check your homeowners or renters insurance declarations page to see what the limit is for your contents coverage. Standard homeowners insurance may limit coverage amounts on certain items, but you can add coverage for many of those items if you need to, usually for a nominal amount.  Also check to see if your contents coverage is replacement cost rather than actual cash value (the value of your items, less depreciation).

If you need homeowners or renters insurance, give L & M Insurance Group a call at 813-672-4100 (click here to contact us online). L & M Insurance Group is an independent insurance agency, partnering with multiple homeowners insurance companies. We can help with all your insurance needs, from homeowners and auto, to business or investor insurance, and even life insurance. Our agents will be happy to discuss your insurance needs and help you find a policy right for you.