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Photographic Home Inventory

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PURPOSE: Create (or update) a home inventory substantiated by photos to provide ownership of your possessions BEFORE the unfortunate event of a disaster.

HISTORY: It is an unfortunate fact that most people procrastinate creating an inventory of the possessions that they have spent their lives obtaining until it is too late. If your home were destroyed or burglarized, would you be able to present the police and insurance adjuster with a complete descriptive listing of all missing items? An accurate listing of items would aid in increasing a reimbursement check; however, having photos will increase that settlement.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU? To create a photographic inventory of your possessions with a descriptive listing to aid in maximizing your insurance settlement check.

RECAP:

Phase 1 – List All Items in Each Room of Your Home

Phase 2 – Photograph Most Important (Expensive) Items

Phase 3 – Make Copies of Your Completed Photo Inventory

Phase 4 – Where Will You Store Your Photo Inventory?

Phase 5 – Photograph All New Items As You Obtain Them and Update Your Inventory

Finale –    CELEBRATE!!!

 

Phase 1 – List All Items in Each Room of Your Home

Make an Inventory

Go through each room and list all of the items in each room. Be sure to keep your list of items separated by rooms. For example:

  • BEDROOM: bed, dresser, bedside table, sewing center, etc.
  • BEDROOM CLOSET: 20 pairs of slacks, 30 blouses, 10 pairs of shoes, etc.
  • LIVING ROOM: sofa, rocking chair, overstuffed chair, coffee table, 2 side tables, 39” television, etc.
  • Remember the outside of your home, your basement, attic, garage, tool sheds, separate storage sheds, etc.

As you list the items, make a point of getting the model and serial numbers and other descriptions of each item such as the following:

  • Description
  • Model
  • Serial number
  • Original Price
  • Purchase date
  • Location (room or address)

 

  • As you make your list, keep in mind that you are making the list to provide to an insurance agent to seek reimbursement to replace the items. Therefore, be as thorough as possible. This is not the place to take shortcuts.
    • You can photograph all items at this point or list the items and then decide those that are the most expensive and photograph just those items (see Phase 2)
  • Go through your credit card statements, files of receipts, guarantees and cancelled checks to find all of this information.
  • If you have valuable paintings or stamp or coin collections, be sure to include certificates of authenticity and/or appraisals complete with the appraisers’ name and addresses)

 

Phase 2 – Photograph Most Important (Expensive) Items

Treasure Chest

Completing a photo inventory is an excellent way to document that you actually own the items as well as the condition of each item. Below are photography tips from Insurance Hotline

  • Use a flash with digital camera or a video camera
  • Label the photos / videotapes with the dates they were taken
  • Include an index card with the purchase price and date of purchase next to the items in the photo
  • Stand at an angle whenever mirrors and other reflective surfaces are involved to prevent glares
  • Include a family member in the picture to help substantiate ownership
  • Open closet doors to show the amount of clothing you own
  • Take pictures of the insides of drawers with the contents fanned out
  • Use a dark cloth as a background for silver, china, crystal, glassware, or jewelry
  • Angle the flash to avoid glare when photographing jewelry
  • When photographing china or silverware, take a picture of the pattern name or manufacturer’s signature. Also arrange the pattern and arrange in a complete place setting
  • If your camera will focus close enough, photograph the hallmarks on the back of china and engraving on silverware. If not, write the info on an index card and include that in the photo
  • Take close-ups of jewelry and other valuables that rarely show brand names and serial numbers
  • Remember to include the camera that you have been using as part of your photo inventory
  • Include the serial and model numbers on an index card positioned next to televisions, appliances and other large items/ Use a felt tipped pen so the writing clearly shows in the finished photo
  • Photograph all rooms of your home in your photo inventory. Use flash for dark corners of rooms
  • Stand opposite each wall and take photos of the entire wall. Move around the room until you have all 4 walls photographed.
    • If you have paintings, photograph the entire wall first and then move closer to the painting. Natural light is best with paintings because flash sometimes is bad for paintings
    • Move in for close ups of televisions, stereos, computers, etc.
  • Continue on with other rooms until every room has been covered in this manner
  • Place small objects and collections on contrasting colored background and move in close
    • Photograph collections inside the drawer or bookcase shelf and then individual close ups
  • When closets and cabinets are shown in the picture, open the doors to reveal the contents. Use flash to make sure there are no shadows inside the closets or cabinets
  • Photos of valuable clothing will be easier to understand if the garments are being worn instead of just being on a hanger
  • Photograph power tools, automobiles, bicycles, lawnmowers, etc.

 

Photographing Your House

Your Home is Your Castle

  • Before taking photos, clean up the area to remove distractions such as bikes, trash or recycle bins, etc.
  • Photos are best when taken on an overcast day because the strong sunlight will wash out details and other features of your house.
  • If you have features such as a sunroof, greenhouse, garden, pergola, pond, pool, waterfall or other water feature, be sure to take photos from different angles to get all sides of those special features.
  • Back up and take some photos farther away from the house showing trees, landscaping and houses or buildings on either side of your house.
  • Remember to photograph your garage both inside and outside.
  • Take all sides of your vehicle(s) to show any damage or lack thereof; take your license plate, and if you can get it, a photo of the VIN number
  • Arrange your lawn mower, snow blower, bicycles and other large items in front of a plain background so they will be shown clearly. Photograph grouping of lawn & garden equipment, hand tools and other possessions kept in your garage.

 

Phase 3 – Make Copies of Your Completed Photo Inventory

  • Save the images to a CD and make several copies (in case the CD becomes corrupt)
  • Also make one colored paper copy to keep with each CD (in case technology changes). If you save the photos in PowerPoint, you can print 3 slides per page, which puts lines on the right of the photos on which you can make notes

 

Phase 4 – Where Will You Store Your Photo Inventory?

  • Store one CD and paper copy in a fireproof safe (if you have one)

    Computer Disks

  • Store one CD and paper copy in a bank safety deposit box
  • Store one CD and paper copy at a friend or relative’s home that is located in a completely different town. The reason for that is if there is an earthquake, tornado, or hurricane that destroys a series of houses, having a copy saved in the neighbor’s home will not help you if their home has also been destroyed
  • Do NOT email a copy to yourself because it will have all of your possessions and the serial numbers and VIN numbers

 

Phase 5 – Make Photos of New Items As You Get Them and Update Your Inventory Annually

  • I always take a photo of new items including the box that the item came in included in the photo. I also print the electronic receipt and staple that to the inside cover of the User’s Manual before filing the manual in a file
  • If you get a paper receipt, be sure to make a photocopy of the receipt because receipts are printed on thermal paper, which fades over time. You can staple the receipt as well as the photocopy
  • Remember to update your electronic inventory with all new items
  • If needed, update your homeowner’s insurance to accommodate new large purchases

Celebrate

 

Finale – CELEBRATE!!!

Go ahead – celebrate. You certainly deserve it.  This has been a lot of work. It is worthwhile and you will be glad you did this if you ever need it.

Congratulations!

 

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Updated: August 8, 2015 — 9:44 pm

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