Woman sitting at table writing a home inventory for homeowners insurance.

9 Steps to Create a Home Inventory for Insurance Claims

Updated April 1, 2024 . AmFam Team

Your home is more than a roof over your head. It’s where your dreams grow, your family thrives and memories are made. But the possessions you keep inside are important, too.

Whether you’re renting an apartment or own your home, you’ve most likely got an insurance policy designed to protect your dwelling and the things inside. Should the unthinkable happen and you have to use that insurance policy, it’s important to have a plan in place. And a home inventory list is a great way to get started!

We’ll walk you through how to create a home inventory so — in the event of the unexpected — you’ll be more prepared and have a streamlined recovery.

What Is a Home Inventory?

Quite simply, a home inventory is a complete list of all the items, especially valuables, in and around your home. The best home inventories include photos, descriptions and dollar values of each of your belongings. The more detail, the better! It’ll help you provide a comprehensive list to your agent of items lost in the event your home is damaged or destroyed, allowing you to get the most out of your coverage.

When your describing the items in your list, remember that the more information, the better. Here’s a quick reference list of the type of information you should include in your home inventory list:

  • An in-depth description of the items. For example, rather than writing down “diamond ring,” be more descriptive, such as: “an emerald cut diamond ring, with white gold shank, accent stones and initials inscribed below the bridge.”
  • Make, model, and/or serial number of the items.
  • Date of purchase, receipts and photos.
  • Estimated replacement cost if you bought it today. Do note that the value of the items might be different today than it was when you first bought them. This is especially true with jewelry, and other valuables.
  • Appraisals at time of purchase. Especially if your items were appraised for insurance purposes.

Why Do I Need a Home Inventory?

Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, everyone can benefit from a home inventory!

If you ever have to make a claim, a home inventory is a great asset to have, especially after stressful events like theft, storm damage or a fire (take a look at how one renter used their home inventory after facing an apartment fire).

When you make a claim, you typically submit information on everything that was lost — which can be difficult to do off the top of your head for all your possessions. Remembering to replace your TV or computer are no-brainers, but when it comes to remembering each piece of jewelry in your jewelry box, things tend to get overlooked. Having a personal property inventory will help, along with knowing how to properly insure your jewelry.

When you have your home inventory checklist, you know exactly what needs to be replaced, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your entire household is protected.

How to Inventory Household items: 9 Steps to Create Your Home Inventory

Ready to get started? Follow these 9 steps to create your own home inventory.

Step 1. Create folders

Start by doing a walk-through of your home, making sure to hit every room in the process. As you go through, create folders (physical or digital) for each room in your house. Don’t forget hallways, closets, utility rooms and storage sheds or garages.

Step 2. List your items

Begin a list for each of the folders and write out every item in each room including clothing, accessories, electronics, appliances, furniture, decorations, linens, artwork, hobby items, collectibles, and heirlooms — anything and everything should have a place in your inventory.

Step 3. Add notes

As you create your comprehensive list, be sure to add detailed notes that describe each item fully. Include the make, model, serial number, and dollar value when possible. And, if you can, list the store and year purchased.

Step 4. Include documents

If you’ve hung onto receipts, especially for bigger purchases like furniture or appliances, or have appraisals for jewelry, art, or other collectibles, tuck them into the appropriate folders. If you’re choosing to keep a digital home inventory, simply scan and save the paper copies.

Step 5. Take photos

A picture is worth a thousand words! Go through your home and take photos of each room and item, especially the expensive ones. If possible, take photos of any model or serial numbers, too. This can be especially useful when filing a claim.

Step 6. Record a video

To take it to the next level and consider taking a video tour of your home. This is a great way to further prove the value of your home’s contents.

Step 7. Attach a home appraisal

Including a home appraisal is the best way to show the value of your home should the unexpected occur.

Step 8. Create a backup copy

Save your home inventory in a safe place and host a backup copy somewhere outside of your home — whether that’s in an online storage account or your safety deposit box. This way you’ll have access to it no matter what happens.

Step 9. Keep it current

Be sure to keep your inventory up to date as you acquire new possessions and part with old ones! Regular maintenance is key to ensuring your home inventory is working for you.

Keep Your Household Inventory List Safe

Now that you know the steps to creating your home inventory list, you’re almost done! Set aside some time to record your inventory items and keep it in a safe place. You’ll want to make it easy for you to find, as you’ll need to update the list periodically.

  • Anytime you purchase something that you want insured, add it to your list.
  • Storing a copy of your home inventory list outside of your home is recommended. Otherwise, it turns into a treasure map should your home be burglarized.
  • Consider keeping your list digitally on your computer. Have a backup copy too, just for safe keeping.
  • If you prefer a handwritten list, make sure that copy isn’t easily accessible for anyone to find.
  • If you decide to use a mobile app for your home inventory list, make sure you know how to properly store and access your files when needed.

Ensure Your Home Inventory is Covered with American Family Insurance

A home inventory won’t be much use without the right coverage. Contact an American Family agent to get a renters or homeowners policy (or update an existing one) that has the right coverage limits in place for your belongings. They’ll walk you through everything you need to know so your policy is built to best protect what matters most.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources and does not afford or guarantee any coverage.

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