Documenting your personal property is one of the more daunting tasks required in the claim process. However, this will help ensure you’re compensated fully for what you’ve lost. Doing a total loss inventory list tends to be high-stress. You must do it correctly so there is no risk of not getting everything you can out of the settlement. It can be messy and time-consuming. It will require a lot of patience as you carefully document the many possessions you’ve collected throughout your life.
1. Make Sure it’s Safe
Get explicit permission from the fire department before entering your home to perform a total loss inventory list. You need to know that it’s safe. Wear:
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Long pants
- Rugged close-toed shoes or boots
- Work gloves
- Safety glasses or goggles
- Certified face mask/respirator (marked NIOSH, N95, or P100)
- Hard hat
To create a total loss inventory list, you must go through the entire house, room by room, taking multiple photos/videos. Then make a list of the items, their age, condition, and replacement cost values.
2. One Room at a Time
Make a diagram of your house with labels on all the rooms. This will help you remember the contents of each room. Draw in any large items like furniture and electronics.
Start in one room. Place some smaller items on a flat surface, like a table, and photograph them. Repeat the process until you have pictures of everything. Move to the other rooms and do the same thing until you’ve gone through the whole home.
You can begin the arduous process of going through all the pictures and listing every item shown, once you’re done. Make sure to include the brand, age, quantity, cost, and condition of the items. Try to be as specific as possible. There are sample spreadsheets available online that can help you with this.
Include the receipts for all the items if you can. If you don’t have receipts, or they were destroyed, talk to the places your items were bought. You can also search the Internet for the items. Make a note of the price you paid for each item on your inventory.
It may also be helpful to visit a department store, such as Target, and use its wedding registry tool to remake a list of items you lost. If you can’t find the exact item, list similar ones. You can also use price-scanning apps for your smartphone. Scan the items that you lost to create a list of items with prices.
3. Assign Replacement Cost Values to Your Personal Items
There can easily be thousands of items that need to be replaced. You have to be meticulous and organized as you make the total loss inventory list. Most policies used today provide Replacement Cost Value (RCV) coverage. They do, however, make you jump through a few hoops to get a full reimbursement. This can seem confusing but the process replaces your items in a way that protects the insurance company.
Go into as much detail as you can. Use receipts and photos when possible. Assign RCV to each item. Remember that the insurance adjuster will judge each item based on age, condition, and wear & tear, then give everything an Actual Cash Value (ACV). The Recoverable depreciation is the dollar amount the insurance company withholds until you can prove that you purchased or replace a certain item.
Save all your invoices and receipts so you can submit them with the claim to be reimbursed. If an older item is in excellent condition, you could argue for ACV to be higher.
We Can Help
Creating a total loss inventory list can be overwhelming. Aftermath Adjusters & Consulting has experience inventorying damaged and destroyed property. We can save you time and hassle. We will make sure it is done correctly so your assets are replaced. We will be your advocate and guide you through the aftermath of a house fire. We will ensure you get every penny you’re entitled to.