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 spring, get pen and paper or smart phone video 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, or even better - video, 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. Updating your insurance policies should be done bi-annually, or when you have a major purchase.
The inventory list/video 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 or take pictures of them.
If you've been in your home for several years, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed at the thought of inventorying all your belongings. Start with one area at a time and work your way through the house. Therefore, many people are opting for video inventories. 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 www.knowyourstuff.org<http://www.knowyourstuff.org/>. Once the inventory is complete, store all the information in a secure, fireproof place such as a bank safe deposit box or a home safe. Another secure location would be in your iCloud, Google Doc or other "cloud" service. Just be sure your family members have access incase you are not able to access it yourself.
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.
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.