Last updated 1 August 2016

How to Create an Inventory for Your International Personal Property Insurance

Creating an inventory of your possessions will not only help you assess the level of insurance cover you need and ensure that your insurance policy fully covers your personal property should disaster strike, but will also speed up any future claims process.

One Space at a Time 

Listing everything you own may seem daunting but if you break the inventory up into categories, the task becomes much more manageable.
One way to categorise an overview of your personal property is to move from room to room within your house or apartment, armed with pen and paper or your laptop.
You could also tackle an inventory by item type, listing all electronics together, furniture, clothes, jewellery, special collections and so on. When it comes to the contents of your wardrobe note the number of each type of clothing item you have like shoes, suits, dresses and coats. Treat clothing that is particularly valuable separately and make detailed notes about distinguishing features.
Do not forget to include the contents of the garage, shed, basement, cellar, garden and attic in your inventory.  The items in these places alone could be worth a small fortune when you consider the cost of tools, a wine collection, patio furniture or garden features. Do not overlook the little items; CD collections, ornaments and toys soon total up to a consider value. 

Inventory Details

Make sure you include full details of each item you are capturing in your inventory overview. Recording details make any insurance claim in the future much easier for both you and the insurance company, as well as assist you in making a police report in the event of theft. Include: 

• model
• make
• serial number
• general description
• date of purchase
• purchase price
• value 
• distinguishing markings

You may need to insure high value items or separately to ensure your insurance policy covers them, so be sure to discuss special items with your insurance company.

Inventory Tools 

There is software available (including many free downloads) to help you create a comprehensive home contents inventory, so if you have a computer at home this may be a good starting point.
Taking photographs is also useful, particularly if you take pictures of distinct items that are easily recognisable should the police find them after a house burglary for example. Take photos of one item at a time and from different angles if the item’s features warrant this.
Alternatively, a walk through your house with a video camera whilst narrating will also ensure that you have a complete record of the items in your house. However, you will still need a tool to record the finer detail and values. 

Storing your Inventory 

Whether you keep a handwritten inventory, or a file on your computer, store a copy in a place you can easily access but which is outside of your home. Ask a friend of family member to keep a copy for you, or rent a safe deposit box, which you could also use to store irreplaceable documents and small items.
Think carefully about where you store photographs and be sure to back up digital photos to an external device or an online photo album. Storage should prevent your photos disappearing with your PC or laptop if it is stolen or lost. 
Keep your Inventory Up-to-date 
Collectables that you have had for years may have changed in value so undertake regular valuations to ensure that your inventory stays accurate and up-to-date. Add new purchases that you make to the inventory, and attach receipts.
Transit, Storage and at Home 
For an expatriate, personal property insurance is a little more complex than a domestic policy. An international personal property insurance covers your possessions in a wider range of situations so your inventory needs to capture this. 
Separate out the details of items you are putting into storage, items you are shipping overseas through a professional relocation company, and belongings that will accompany you personally on your journey. This way you will have an accurate overview before you relocate. 

You can now get free and easy quotes to help you choose the best insurance coverage for items damaged when traveling, during the relocation process or while staying overseas.

Amanda Van mulligen

Photo: GotCredit

Related expat articles

A Guide to International Personal Property Insurance