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got stuff? time to take inventory

No one wants to think that their home will be burglarized, damaged, or destroyed. But according to the Insurance Information Institute, each year 7 percent of insured homes have damage that results in a homeowners insurance claim.

If you ever do have to file a homeowners insurance claim, you'll need to submit a list of items that have been lost, stolen, or damaged. Having a list of all your possessions at your fingertips will ease a difficult process and get your insurance claim settled faster.

Here are some guidelines to follow when compiling your home inventory:

Decide on a game plan

To make a gargantuan task more manageable, deal with one room at a time, or inventory your goods by category, age, or price. The process may be tiring, so set a pace that works for you. Remember taking inventory of one room is better than no inventory at all.

Photograph or video

Visually capturing your items with photos or video is a good idea, especially for those things you're not sure how to describe or price. Write a description on the back of photos, and if using video, narrate as you move along. Get close-up shots as well as far-away shots to have a more complete documentation of your possessions.

What to record

You'll need to describe the item, including its brand/model (if applicable), condition, purchase price, replacement cost, current value, and the date and location you purchased the item. Also, record any serial numbers found on your possessions. While you can record these items by writing them down, home inventory software is also available online.

Pay attention to those big-ticket items

Record serial numbers for your higher-end items and note how much you paid. Also, you'll want to check to see if these items will be adequately covered under your homeowners insurance policy. You may need to insure certain items, like expensive jewelry, separately.

Know how prices fluctuate

While improving technology can depreciate the value of some of your items, such as your stereo, other items, such as art, may increase in value with age. It's impossible to know the exact price of all your belongings, but when you file a homeowners insurance claim, you'll be expected to estimate the cost to replace your lost, damaged, or stolen items.

Store outside of the home

Keep your inventory list in at least two places outside of your home, such as in a safe, at work, at a friend's or family member's home, or in your email.

Receipts. Receipts. Receipts.

Hold on to your receipts, especially for big tickets items. Store the original or a copy in a place outside your home with your home inventory.

Look everywhere

Remember to look in your closet, garage, attic, under your bed, and in boxes and drawers for items that need to be included in your inventory.

Just like having reliable homeowners insurance coverage, a detailed inventory list of your possessions will give you peace of mind!