Keep Track of What You Own with a Home Inventory

If you suddenly experienced a catastrophic incident where all of your possessions were destroyed, would you be able to remember everything you’ve accumulated over the years? Like most people, your answer is probably “no.” That’s why having an up-to-date home inventory is so important. It can help you settle your insurance claim faster, because it represents an accurate and immediate accounting of what you lost. A home inventory can also be used to determine if you have enough insurance to replace the items you own, as well as verify losses for your income tax return.

To help you create an accurate home inventory, the Ohio Insurance Institute offers the following guidelines:

·   Use your wedding registries to document new possessions if you have just been married.

·   Update your inventory regularly, adding new items when you buy them. Be sure to keep receipts and take photos.

·   Take close-up shots of expensive items such as jewelry, fine art, stamp collections, china, furs, antiques and silver. Items, like artwork, antiques and collectibles may increase in value over time. They may require appraisals for authentication and value.

·   Don’t forget to inventory the contents of closets, drawers, the basement, the garage and outbuildings.

·   Include toys and CDs in your inventory.

·   Copy the inventory onto a disk/CD and store it off-premises in a safety deposit box or at a friend or relative’s house.

·   Be sure to delete items from your inventory when they are no longer in your possession.

·   Update your inventory every few years, when you move, or when you make a major home improvement.

Home inventory software is available that allows you to add digital photographs of your items. If you only own a film camera, you can scan print photographs or have the film developer save the images to a disk. The software also allows you to scan in copies of your receipts.

Another way to create an inventory is with a video camera. Walk through your house or apartment videotaping the contents and describing the items as you go, including information like the make and model of home electronics and appliances, or the type of upholstery fabric used for expensive furniture. You can do the same task using a tape recorder; however, be sure to have detailed photographs that serve as a backup to the verbal descriptions.

A third way to create a home inventory is to use a personal finance software package. These often include a homeowners room-by-room inventory program.

Protect Yourself Before Disaster Strikes

Tornados that have recently devastated parts of the Midwest could pop up anywhere. While there is generally little to no warning before these storms strike, there are some steps you can take to protect your family and your home from disaster.

1: Construct a safe room

Homeowners living in an area known for tornados should consider a safe room, which is built to withstand wind speeds of over 250 miles per hour. Usually, a safe room is located in a central, ground-floor area of the home for additional protection as well as accessibility. To find out more about safe room plans, check out the Federal Emergency Management Agency at

2: Reinforce the garage

Most residential tornado damage starts when wind enters through the garage, so you should make sure your garage doors are reinforced.

A qualified contractor can determine if the garage door system is able to resist high-speed winds and, if necessary, replace it with a stronger system. If your garage doors are more than eight feet wide, you should consider installing permanent wood or metal stiffeners.

3: Install impact resistant doors and windows

If you are replacing your patio doors or building a new home, consider installing impact-resistant doors made of laminated glass, plastic glazing or a combination of plastic and glass.

Likewise, if you’re thinking about replacing your home’s windows, be sure to install impact-resistant windows.

4: Remove clutter from the yard

Keeping your yard free of debris can also help to minimize storm damage. Prune weak branches and remove trees that could fall on your house. If you use gravel or rock landscaping material, consider replacing it with mulch.