Technology Available to Document Personal Possessions During Home Inventory

December 16, 2004

Americans are expected to spend more than $63 billion on gifts this holiday season. With so many people adding more things to their households, now is an excellent time for consumers to begin or update their home inventories, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)

“An up-to-date home inventory is one of the best ways to make the most of your insurance dollars,” said Jeanne Salvatore, vice president, consumer affairs, I.I.I. “A home inventory is basically a list of all of your personal possessions and their estimated value.”

A home inventory helps consumers:

* Purchase enough insurance to replace the things that they own
* Get insurance claims settled faster
* Substantiate losses for income tax purposes

To encourage homeowners and renters to conduct a home inventory, the I.I.I. has created “Know Your Stuff – Home Inventory Software,” which can be found at This special site allows individuals to download the software and lists of possessions that can typically be found in certain rooms to make the task simpler. It also encourages consumers to back up their computerized lists with digital photographs and videotapes.

“More and more of us have all kinds of high tech gadgets,” said Salvatore. In fact, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, 74 percent of consumers plan to purchase at least one electronic gift this holiday season, with digital cameras expected to be the most popular gift.

Consumers can, of course, simply note all of their belongings in a notebook and keep a file of major receipts. But using technology such as the computer and/or digital camera or video recorder simplifies the process. Consumers can take digital photographs and store them with this software. Using a digital video camera can be quite effective, since individuals can also narrate what they are filming.

When making a record of possessions, it is important to note expensive items such as jewelry, furs and collectibles since they may require additional insurance. But, it is also important to make note of more commonplace items such as toys, CDs, clothing and even towels and linens since the cost of replacing these items can really add up if one suffers a major disaster, according to the I.I.I.

“If your household gets involved, this project can be fun. Children can help by opening closets and drawers and listing what is in there,” added Salvatore.

More importantly, it is easy to update and store an electronic home inventory. It takes nothing more than the click of a mouse to add a new possession. As for storing one’s electronic home inventory, individuals can burn a CD or print out a room-by-room document to be stored in a safety deposit box or other secure location. It can also be e-mailed to a friend or family member so that an electronic version will live in cyberspace. If there is a disaster, one can always remotely access their e-mail remotely.

The software can also be downloaded at the I.I.I.’s Web site Additional information on home and renters insurance can be found at this site as well.

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