Inventory your home so you can be prepared!

Although we have been fortunate this spring, avoiding huge tornado outbreaks, etc.  The first part of May always reminds me about the devastation that is possible from these types of spring storms.  The F5 tornado which hit the Moore area in 1999 and the record number of tornados that went across our state in 2010 brings to mind the people lost, broken houses, torn up streets and yards.  Although the things we own can usually be replaced, and in the grand scheme of a disaster are put into perspective as they relate to our life and safety, they are still an important part of our lives.  If I have said it once, I will say it one thousand times; the best time to prepare for a disaster is when absolutely nothing is happening!  So, as you enjoy the sunshine this weekend, get pen and paper or video camera to start your household inventory.  It will save you peace of mind and some money if you are ever in the unfortunate path of an Oklahoma storm.          

A complete inventory is so important in the event of a tornado, fire, flood or other disaster. You probably wouldn’t be able to remember all the belongings you have accumulated over the years if they are destroyed. If you have an inventory list, you will be in a better position to settle your insurance claim quickly and substantiate your losses for tax reporting purposes.

In addition, an inventory will give you a complete picture of what you own to help determine if you have adequate insurance coverage.

The inventory list should include information such as a description of the item, make and model, serial numbers, place of purchase, the purchase price and either the replacement cost or appraised value.  Try to keep receipts with the list.

If you’ve been in your home for a number of years, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of inventorying all of your belongings. Start with one area at a time and work your way through the house. Photograph or videotape each room in your home. Open closet doors and drawers.  Don’t forget to document items in storage sheds and the garage.  If videotaping, include yourself describing each of your items as you walk through the house. Remember, an incomplete list is much better than no list at all.

To help make the inventory task easier, there is free home inventory software available at This software is provided by the Insurance Information Institute. You can access the Institute’s Web site at You must register to use it. The software allows you to e-mail your inventory list to family or friends.  For each room of your house, you can upload files containing digital photos and scanned receipts of all the items in that room.  You can even add photos of the exterior of your house.

Make sure you know what your insurance does – and does not – cover. Despite having a complete inventory, if you don’t have the right kind of insurance it won’t do you any good.  Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.

Once the inventory is complete, store all of the information in a secure, fireproof place such as a bank safe deposit box or a home safe.   You may also want to forward digital photos and important documentation to yourself or a trusted relative/friend at a Web-based e-mail address. That way you can retrieve it quickly once you regain internet access.

It’s hard enough to deal with the destruction of your home and property in the event of a disaster. Having an inventory of what you own will help ease the process of rebuilding.