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BBB Tip of the Week: Home inventories

For years I have protected my personal property with an insurance policy, first as a renter and then as a home owner. I lock my doors. I make sure to have fresh batteries in the fire alarm. But if someone burglarized my home, or it caught fire or succumbed to a natural disaster, I might be hard pressed to list every valuable I own. If you find yourself in a similar situation, consider creating a home inventory.

In the case of burglary, your insurance company will require you to submit proof of the stolen property. The inventory of your valuables would be one less thing to worry about if you ever find yourself in this situation.

Are you under- or over-insured? A home inventory can help you determine your insurance coverage needs, another good reason to have one.

To create your home inventory:

• Use a spreadsheet, checklist, or software that is right for your needs and budget. For example, if you have an extensive DVD collection, you may want to use software especially designed for cataloguing DVDs.

• Take photos of all of your possessions. Use good light and angle it away from reflective surfaces to prevent glare.

• Write down the serial numbers of your electronics. Serial numbers can help the police track down stolen items if they are sold.

• Keep or scan receipts of large-ticket items like electronics, artwork and jewelry.

• Keep the home inventory list, photos and receipts in a safe place, such as a protected data-storage account or in a safe deposit box. After you’ve created your home inventory list, don’t forget to maintain it. If you donate a computer to charity, remove it from the list. If you install a home theater system, document it before and after the installation.

If the task of creating a home inventory list is overwhelming, you may find professional services in the area that will take on the task for you. Remember to always check out a business before you spend your money, by visiting or calling 509-455-4200.

Erin T Dodge, BBB Editor