In recent weeks I've had something of a wake-up call: several friends and family members have had their houses broken into and some expensive possessions stolen. I'm talking laptops, big-screen TVs, and the like. This got me wondering how prepared I'd be if the same thing happened to me. For example, would I be able to provide serial numbers to the police? And how could I prove my losses to my insurance company?
One cheap and easy solution: a home inventory, which includes details about each valuable item you own.
You can create a simple home inventory using any spreadsheet program: Excel, Google Docs, OpenOffice, etc. But what information should you include, and how should you organize it? (And if you've never built a spreadsheet before, even the basic mechanics might prove daunting.)
Have no fear: a company called Vertex42 offers a free Home Inventory spreadsheet [GD:click through to the original article for the link]. It's provided in XLS format, meaning you should be able to open it in any spreadsheet program on the planet. (If you're a Google Docs user, you'll have to download it to your PC, then upload it to Docs.)
This nicely formatted document has room for your personal and insurance information. It also ..."
Imagine that you all the "stuff" you have is suddenly gone. Sure you've got insurance (hopefully), but your agent wants "an itemized list or detailed inventory of your stuff, and its value, for your claim." What would you do? (What would I do, you mean, besides cry?)
This spreadsheet looks like a great starting point for that inventory. Just do a little at a time, maybe a room or even a wall in a room at a time, and in just a little while I bet you'll be done will only need to update it every so often. And if you start now, you'll be done that much sooner... (Note to self: Do this... it's just one more piece of our preparedness puzzle)