The devil’s in the detail. The advantages of doing a home inventory.

Remember the devastating Knysna fires or some of the brutal floods in the past that have wreaked havoc? Dealing with the aftermath of such a calamity for many families can be a seemingly perpetual, heart-wrenching process, which can take months or even years before they’re back on a happy track.

Homeowners’ insurance is specifically designed to help policy owners minimise their losses and resume a normal life as quickly as possible. Yet most holders of a homeowners’ policy wanting to claim are taken aback when asked if they have an updated home inventory, which is simply a detailed, itemized list of home contents.

Yes, going around one’s home writing every item down does sound like a mammoth exercise. But don’t be intimidated, because these days compiling a home inventory can actually be quick and easy (even if you’re a serial hoarder). Simply use your smartphone to take photos and videos of your contents (pay special attention to expensive items such as jewellery, valuable collections and art). There are also several apps available to make the process even easier.

Update the inventory often and once you’ve created it, keep it (and any supporting documentation) off-site, yet accessible, such as in a safe or store it digitally in a cloud-based service like Dropbox. Also, keep as many receipts as you can for proof of purchase.

Now not having a home inventory doesn’t mean you won’t be able to file a successful claim, but it can speed up the process. It also helps you purchase the right amount and type of insurance, serves as documentation for any potential disputes and helps substantiate losses for tax purposes or when applying for financial assistance.

Remember, trying to recall your items from memory after a loss can be stressful and you could easily forget something. Giving your assessor a complete visual inventory can help to file a stress-free claim.