A contents inventory is the best way to know what you have and how much it is worth. The inventory is also extremely useful if a loss occurs. Make a room-by-room list of all your belongings. Include brand names, model information, serial numbers, and receipts when possible. Photographs, videos, and value appraisals are helpful. A number of resources offer personal assistance, online services, or paper guides to complete this task. Keep the inventory in a secure, off-site location and update it often. Use the inventory to understand your personal property insurance needs. Most homeowners policies insure personal belongings for half the dwelling limit. Confirm your contents coverage limit is sufficient. Talk to your homeowners agent about buying additional insurance if necessary.
Be familiar with terms outlined in the insurance policy. Most have limitations, exclusions, and loss settlement stipulations that apply to personal property losses. For example, theft of jewelry, watches, furs, and precious or semi-precious stones may be limited to $1,000. Look for restrictions on stolen guns, silver, gold, and pewter as well. Contents claims are subject to the policy deductible and are settled on an actual cash value basis. Actual cash value means replacement cost minus depreciation. Consider adding contents replacement cost coverage to remove depreciation as a loss settlement factor. The claim settlement will be depreciated at first, but you will get the difference between ACV and today's price once the item is replaced. Insurers offer a variety of policy add-ons that tailor coverage for unique needs. Your homeowners insurance agent can provide more information on endorsement options.