After a fire, flood, or windstorm, how does your insurance company know how much to reimburse you? Apart from the appraised value of your home, your insurance company will use your list of assets. A detailed inventory of your home will be needed, in addition to documentation regarding how much that item cost. If you don’t inventory your home, you may find yourself being reimbursed for far less than you are actually owed.

1. Walk Through Your Home

You can begin to inventory your home by walking from room to room, listing the items inside of it. If the item has a serial number, write it down; this will become important if you lose your items or if they’re stolen. Be as descriptive as possible: rather than “black coffee maker” write down the make, model number, and when the maker was purchased.

You can make the list anywhere: paper, a spreadsheet, or a text document. What’s most important is that you are as detailed as possible and that you update this list frequently.

2. Take a Video Record

Smartphones have made it easier to take a visual record of your assets. Get video and photos of your home, so anything that you miss will be recorded and you’ll have clear documentation regarding what you had. Make sure digital copies are saved somewhere other than just locally; you don’t want your list to be on a computer that is damaged in a fire or a flood.

Visual records are also a good way to show that you had an item at a specific date and that it was in good condition. This can be important if there’s some dispute about the current condition of an item and whether it is worth replacing.

3. Save Digital Copies of Receipts

Receipts, appraisals, and other documentation should all be digitized so you can upload them to the cloud or to another document server. Digital copies are far less likely to get lost than paper copies, which can easily be damaged or stolen.

You can either take photos of documents or scan them in, depending on what you have available. It’s most important that the data is legible. Receipts are particularly important to digitize because many of them will fade over time.

4. Keep Your Records in Multiple Places

Ideally, your records should be kept in multiple places. Online storage, an external hard drive, and a paper copy will all ensure that it’s unlikely that you’ll lose your notes. You can even download an app that you can use to inventory your home and keep your data in it ( iOS | Android ) . This can be very useful, because you can immediately make a claim with the information from the app. You can also export the information to save it separately.

Get started on your home inventory today to protect yourself from potential disaster. Every year, inventory your home for new items and make sure you keep documentation as you add items to your property. If you ever need to put in a claim, you’ll find it much easier.