Preparing for the Unexpected – Inventory Checklists

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Iz Victoria.headshotBy Victoria Ostrosky

Janet and Sam had just enough time to hurriedly, with shaking hands, grab some framed photos, their laptops and changes of clothes. The police officer urged them to move quickly. With their adrenaline pumping like they had just run a sprint, they drove out of their subdivision, abject fear coursing through their veins, black-gray smoke billowing up, obliterating the yellow and orange sky, vibrating with heat. It looked like the world was on fire.

Afterwards, they held hands as they sifted through their destroyed belongings, stopping often to stoop down and pick up a charred item that was once a treasured part of their home. They remembered raising their children here, and entertaining friends here. When would their lives be back to normal?

We love our cell phones. In particular we love the camera on our phones. We take selfies and sunset pictures of the water. We photograph birthdays and anniversaries and graduations.

Compiling a home inventory list isn’t what we normally think about taking pictures of, do we? We might think we can remember everything we have in each room and drawer and cabinet and closet. The truth is, we can’t.

Whether you’ve experienced a total loss, or a partial loss, being able to supply your claims adjuster with concrete evidence of your possessions will help facilitate finalizing your claim.
It is recommended that you start with a Home Inventory Checklist. On this list, include every item in each room, especially items of value, including serial and model numbers. A home is chock full of all kinds of valuables from ordinary items like wide-screen televisions to unique ones such as original paintings. This list provides you, the homeowner, with solid evidence to submit to your insurance company in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.

The checklist is a document of all assets found in your home, condo or apartment, and can be a valuable tool in estate planning and a guide for distributing property to heirs. This same type of detailed list would work if the same disaster wiped out your business showroom, warehouse or office.

Keep receipts of larger purchases, and don’t forget to update your list on an annual basis, ideally at the beginning of the year. Then store it in a safe place such as a cloud account. There are even several apps available now to help develop your home inventory checklist. If you’re prone to becoming overwhelmed easily, start with a small room, or a specific collection such as your sports equipment. Because I’m an avid reader and collector of books, I’d probably start with my bookshelves. And don’t forget items like computers, washing machines, bikes, AC units, tools and video games.

In addition to a written/typed list, include photos and videos, and don’t forget to open all drawers and cabinets when you’re documenting your possessions. You don’t need to list every item of clothing, but you could specify the number of, for example, jeans, like five pairs of jeans and 500 pairs of shoes. And while you are compiling your inventory list, it is a good idea to take photos of the exterior of the home including your cars and boats.

If you have collections such as jewelry or firearms, art or memorabilia, you should consider scheduling these on a Personal Articles Floater, since most homeowner’s policies contain sub-limits of coverage for specific types of possessions. Underwriters will require copies of receipts for newer purchases and possibly appraisals for items of a certain value.

This whole year has been a tough one for all of us. The recent Santa Rosa Beach wildfire brought even more distress to families in our community. We’ve been social distancing, wearing masks, working from home, homeschooling our children, and doing our best to be good neighbors and responsible citizens.

And now I’m telling you that you need to do something more. Make it a game if you can. But do it. Then keep it somewhere safe, such as a safe deposit box, cloud account, or you can even email it to yourself (just don’t forget your email password!)

There are also companies in our area who can take care of it for you if you prefer not to do it yourself.

As Gandalf said to Frodo, about secreting the One Ring, “Keep it secret, keep it safe!”

Insurance Zone, owned by Joe and Lea Capers, is a full service commercial and personal lines insurance agency serving Destin, Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Beach (30A) and Inlet Beach. Visit their Video Library on and watch several informative videos including ’Home Inventory Checklist, or call 850.424.6979. Victoria Ostrosky, author of this article is an Agent/CSR with IZ.

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