How to Create a Home Inventory (For Renters, Too!)

Marylanders breathed a sigh of relief when both after storm fronts stalled and pushed Hurricane Dorian out to the Mid-Atlantic ocean. Stormy weather still hit areas of Maryland that saw torrential downpours and minor flooding, but not the disastrous effects of a full-blown hurricane.

But hurricane season still isn’t over. Maryland residents should take this time to prepare themselves for potential disasters in the future, and a home inventory is just one of the ways to do that—even if you’re a renter. 

It’s the month to prepare yourself

September is National Preparedness Month, but initiatives promoting the theme urge for preparedness and emergency planning throughout the entire year. The theme for September 2019’s National Preparedness Month is “prepared, not scared.” 

Ready.gov provides a Hurricane Seasonal Preparedness Digital Toolkit here, where you can learn all about the precautions to take as an individual and in your community. The toolkit includes educational material about hurricanes and what to do before, during, and after one occurs, hashtags to search for on social media regarding hurricane preparedness, messages from Ready.gov, the National Hurricane Center, and FEMA, and more. 

Even when September is over, you can remind yourself of other emergencies and hazards to prepare for with the 2019 Ready Seasonal Messaging Calendar from FEMA, downloadable in PDF format here

In addition, the FEMA app can be useful for keeping up with weather alerts from the National Weather Service and learning safety precautions in the event of a disaster. The app covers 20 different types of disasters and even connects you to emergency centers in your area to speak with FEMA personally. 

As for other areas of preparing, consider a home inventory of the items in your home.

The Insurance Information Institute estimates that half of all homeowners have not completed a home inventory. It’s highly recommended to complete a home inventory, as this will help you to further understand the coverage you have and whether it’s right for you, based on the value of your possessions. In addition, a home inventory can help you to be more fairly reimbursed when you’ve carefully documented your potential losses in advance.

If it seems like taking a home inventory is complicated, rest assured that there are tools and tips out there to make the process easier. It might seem difficult to determine a value for all of your possessions, but you can even use a home inventory app to complete the process.

CNBC tested out a variation of these apps and settled on two that proved helpful in documenting possessions quickly, as well as accurately, especially when it comes to more costly items.

Encircle is available for both Android and iOS. The app allows you to quickly and conveniently determine the items to be added to your inventory by organizing those items by room using photos. The app also includes listed replacements for specific items in order to better determine their value.  

Net Egg requires in-app purchases and is only available to iOS, but is more convenient for those with more valuable possessions to document in their item listing.

What should I itemize?

Experts say that an inventory does not have to be completely itemized, but you do want to focus on those items that are more expensive in general and find those specific receipts in order to ensure that you can be compensated accurately in the event of an insurance claim.

A home inventory only applies to homeowners, right?

Not at all. Renter’s insurance gives you the opportunity to inventory your belongings as well. The apps, recommendations, and precautions aimed at homeowners can also be used by those who have renters insurance coverage.

If you’ve been considering renter’s insurance, it might be a wise idea to take a closer look at your car insurance or another insurance policy as well. Bundling can be a cost and time-saving option, and help to give you peace of mind about your big-ticket items.

If you’re ready to ensure that you’re covering your areas of preparedness, click here for a free quote for affordable coverage.