How to Create a Home Inventory For Your Oregon Renters Insurance
A home inventory serves two basic purposes if you’re a renter in Oregon. First, it gives you an idea of how much affordable renters insurance you need to purchase. After that, it serves the critical duty of letting both you and your insurer know what home possessions were lost, stolen, or damaged in a covered event, and their financial value.
Your first question might be, “Why do I need renters insurance? Isn’t my landlord responsible for damage due to fire, floods, burglary, and that kind of thing?”
The truth is, your landlord is responsible only for what they own: the walls, roof, floors, HVAC, electrical and plumbing and other structures of the apartment, home, condo, or other space you rent. Your possessions are your responsibility. Without renters insurance, you could potentially lose everything you own in a catastrophe and not get even a penny of compensation.
Let’s get into the specifics.
What is a Home Inventory?
It’s a stored document that lists all of the possessions in your rental space (or at least those of the most importance to you) and provides as much proof as possible of your ownership of those items and the value of each.
The reason to create and keep and periodically update this important document is so you can, as quickly as possible, replace the items you lost. It will also help you get a fair claim settlement that’s not likely to be challenged or held up long by your insurance company.
The need is even more basic than that, though. You might first have to use your home inventory to convince yourself that you’ve lost certain items. Let’s say you’ve lived in your current address for several years. Are you absolutely certain of every valuable item you have stored in the basement, attic, or garage? If fire and water extensively damaged your Oregon rental quarters, would you remember everything you’d lost at that emotionally unsettling time when you have a million other thoughts on your mind?
It’s much easier for yourself, as well as for your insurance company, if you have your contents itemized, valued, and ready for review as soon as possible after a theft, fire, or other catastrophic events.
How Do I Create a Home Inventory?
The easiest way to answer that question is to say that you can put together such a document any way you want－as long as it is convincing and easy for both yourself and your renters insurance claims adjuster to understand when it’s needed. You might use an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document or any number of free or low-cost apps on the market for this purpose. (More on these apps later.)
Notice how each of these choices are digital. Sure, you can use paper and pen if you’re not very computer savvy. The problem with this approach, however, is that your paper-bound home inventory might end up destroyed in the same calamity that made your insurance claim necessary.
However, if you create your home inventory digitally, you can store it in an off-site cloud environment so it can’t be destroyed or misplaced. It might be just as simple as emailing the document to yourself, others you trust, or keeping it on your email account.
As far as setting up your document goes, the three basic elements of each listing should be the item description, an estimated or proven value, and a photo.
How Do I Assign a Value to Everything I Own?
Good question. Most of us don’t keep receipts for absolutely everything we own. But you should make it a habit to at least keep proof of purchase for such higher-end home products as electronics, appliances, art, jewelry, furniture, and similar others. If you do have a receipt or other proof of purchase, take a photo of the paperwork and keep it with the item description in your document.
If you don’t have a receipt, go online to such shopping sites as eBay or Amazon. Find the make and model of your items of a similar age and condition and see what the going rate is. That will give you at least a ballpark figure which might be convincing to your insurance adjuster.
Keep in mind that even if you make an educated guess at an item’s replacement cost, it’s all negotiable with your insurance company. If you’re estimating a price, add such additional information as serial numbers or product numbers if you have them. This will also help you and your adjuster track down an appropriate value.
You can take the photograph that will accompany each listing with your smartphone camera. If possible, pose the item with a room of your home or apartment in the background so that your adjuster can see that the item was actually yours, not merely an image you swiped from the internet.
What Digital Apps Are Available to Make My Home Inventory Easier?
Digital technology is your friend when it comes to getting help with your home inventory. There are several apps on the market today that will help you categorize and list the contents of your home for this purpose.
Free or low-cost apps include those from BluePlum Home Inventory, Home Contents, Magic Home Inventory, and many others. Some allow users to scan item bar codes when they’re available. This will make your job go even faster and easier. Check out the websites of these and other home inventory apps to explore features and see how each operates.
One main advantage of these apps is that they’ll help you organize your thoughts and figure out how to compile your home content listings. They’ll show you where to start and how to create the most effective home inventory.
Do I List Everything I Own on My Home Inventory?
That’s up to you. At the very least you’ll want to list the costliest of your possessions. So that includes the items listed earlier, such as furniture, appliances, art, jewelry, electronics, clothing and other pricey belongings.
But you should also include lower-cost items which you’ll quickly need to replace. For instance, your ten-year-old living room couch might not have much current monetary value, but it’s pretty important to have somewhere to sit in your new apartment. Therefore, you’ll want to replace it fairly quickly.
Other items might be listed in bulk. For instance, shoot a photo of all of your kids’ toys and estimate a value for the entire lot. Do the same with your underwear drawer or the shoes in your closet rather than tediously listing each item one by one－which could take forever, for a very low payoff.
Where Do I Start?
That’s one overriding question you’ve probably had from the moment you started reading. Yes, the idea of having to list virtually everything you own can seem pretty intimidating. Keep in mind, however, that it’s up to you whether you inventory all of your possessions or restrict your home inventory to your priciest items and those you’ll need to replace the quickest.
However many items you choose to include, the best place to start is with those that would hurt you most if you didn’t replace them as soon as possible. For instance, if you operate your business out of your home or apartment you might be in a bigger hurry to replace your computers, printer, and smartphone than virtually anything else damaged or destroyed.
You’ll also want a replacement oven and refrigerator in a pretty big hurry if your kitchen sustains damage.
Don’t think of this document as something that must be completed in an afternoon or a single long and dreary day. After you’ve listed your most critical possessions, you might inventory the remainder of your contents a room at a time. Or work on your home inventory for an hour every night after work. Taking that slow but steady approach might get the job done in a week or so.
Once you’ve accomplished the initial draft, consider your home inventory to be a living document that can be quickly and easily updated. Just remember that every time you make a relevant purchase, add it to your growing document. You’ll get quicker and more efficient with every new item you list.
As your inventory grows, you might find at some point that you need to upgrade the face value of your renters insurance policy to keep up with the rising value of your home contents. This is another good use of your home inventory document－to keep your insurance continually relevant to your financial needs.
Ask Us About Your Oregon Affordable Renters Insurance Needs
At Vern Fonk Insurance, our independent agents are waiting to serve the insurance needs of all Oregon residents. Call us at (800)-455-8276 or get a quick online renters insurance quote. You can also find the Vern Fonk Insurance office nearest you to discuss your renters insurance in person with an experienced agent.
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