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Create a Home Inventory Now for Insurance Later

by Heidi Leder on October 28, 2012

Updated October 28,2012

With Sandy pounding the East coast, we’re reminded to take a look at how prepared we are for an emergency. One easily overlooked check-list item is an up-to-date list of your belongings, or a home inventory. Should the worst happen, you'll need it to recount everything that's damaged or missing and substantiate insurance claims.

A home inventory should included a detailed list of your belongings, complete with descriptions, photos, videos, estimated or acquired value (receipt if you have it) and dates of purchase—basically anything that can provide proof of ownership and condition prior to loss. While it does take time to catalog the information, home inventory software programs can make taking inventory of your belongings easier and generate reports when you need them. They can also help you to assess if you are under- or over-insured.

If you don’t have a home inventory already, start by checking out one of the free, printable inventory checklists from companies like State Farm, and Farmer's Insurance. They provide a quick low-tech guide to accounting for your possessions.

But a better solution is one of the web-based home inventory management services that let you record relevant information, including photo and receipts, and store it for you safely online for access anywhere at anytime.

One drawback to the web-based services is that matching your photos with your inventory items is a manual process. With phone-based apps, you simply walk around your home taking pictures and entering pertinent information at the same time.

Whether you go the old fashion route and write out a list, use an app or go with one of the following web-based programs, it goes without saying that you should keep a copy of your home inventory off the premises. This could be as simple of printing out a copy and mailing it to a relative, emailing a copy or keeping the data stored online (see our recommended online storage sites). While you hope to never use it, you'll be glad you spent the time should you ever need it.

Web-based home inventory solutions

Know Your Stuff Home Inventory
This free service from the Insurance Information Institute captures all of the information you need for your detailed home inventory, including photos, scanned receipts and appraisals.

This free basic service lets you enter detailed item information including serial number, condition and item purchase and replacement costs. Add photos, scanned receipts and appraisals and print or download a report any time.

Phone-based home inventory solutions

AllState Digital Locker for iPhone is free for anyone, even if you're not an Allstate customer. It lets you snap shots and enter basic information on price, room and category. It also has the ability to search items in its database by name or barcode to help out with the details, but in our testing, we couldn't get that feature to work. There is no online storage, but item list can be emailed from the application.

Inventory Droid for Android phones ($4.99) lets you capture detailed information about all of your property, including photos, and saves entry time by scanning bar codes to pull in key information automatically. There is no online storage, but you can export your information to an CSV (Excel) file or an Inventory Droid backup.


Fab Websites, Health and Home, Home Safety & Security, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Tips & How-Tos, Financial Planning, Organization

Discussion loading

I use lists myself but

From Tony on November 05, 2010 :: 4:12 pm

I use lists myself but I’m looking into the apps to add to it. Thanks.


Up to the insurers

From Jeff on March 10, 2011 :: 6:33 am

When you take out a home contents insurance policy, you typically need to make a list of all the items that are to be insured. Using these apps to keep track of additional items that you purchase is great, but most policies also have a value limit like $20,000 which is set at the time of you signing your policy. This means that insurers are most likely not going to cover the extra items that you are keeping track of with your new lists or apps if they exceed the limit that has been set.


Hello Irene!

From Tracy on August 26, 2011 :: 11:20 am


Digital locker

From Terry on August 26, 2011 :: 11:55 am

Great app! I just downloaded to my iPhone. Thx.


Another Option

From Holly on August 28, 2011 :: 10:27 am

In your article you mention online storage sites and organizational tools. 

How about

“Life happens – vacations, emergencies, illness, natural disasters, distance from family, etc. And in today’s paperless society, it is becoming increasingly difficult to locate important data in a hurry when you need it. To assist individuals with organizing and storing certain pieces of “life” information, Life Elephant provides its members with online storage space and secure access to their most important life information, forms, and documents. The information can be retrieved online at any time – 24/7.”

I have found this to be another user-friendly tool!


Unlimited properties able to be loaded

From Fritz on January 03, 2012 :: 3:24 pm

Hi All,

I’m a landlord and have multiple properties throughout New Hampshire. I am looking for a single software application/database that will allow me to enter as many properties as I need to to service my tenants. I have toyed with the idea of creating my own database via FileMaker, but would prefer to purchase one in the interest of time saved. Does anyone know of any available apps/dbases that allow multiple properties to be entered? It doesn’t matter if their storage is online or not and cost is NOT an immediate factor in my purchase. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

Best- Fritz


Fritz, Check out a new

From sam on January 29, 2012 :: 7:40 pm


Check out a new online home inventory software that might fit your needs. We are in the process of implementing multiple locations. For the time being, check out how simple and easy it is to use our service.


Unlimited properties able to be loaded

From Paul Donald on May 23, 2013 :: 3:03 pm

Hi Fritz,

I’m not sure if you found a solution yet but if not Encircle ( is the easiest solution to use and doesn’t limit the amount of properties you can add or amount of content. Encircle also provides a support database around the appliances, electronics, HVAC based on the model numbers you enter. Encircle works on iOS and Android devices to make data capture easy. Give it a try and let us know whether it fits your needs.

Paul Donald


A new kind of home inventory

From Denventory on May 22, 2012 :: 12:09 am

A nice list of resources, we hope to be on your list some day. Our wonderful team at Denventory have created an online home inventory application. We are in the process of creating a mobile app to make the inventory process even easier. I hope you check us out and see what you think. Thanks!


Great use of the technology

From Sasha Rambles on October 29, 2012 :: 3:19 pm

That’s a great idea - a smart phone really lends itself well to that sort of application. Have to admit I’d be a bit paranoid about putting the info into a service aimed at this market, though, think of the unscrupulous uses it could be put to - even if you don’t put in your address, you might forget about the exif data that could lead thieves right to your home -> and they already know what’s in there.


How do we know our info is safe

From Cyndee on October 29, 2012 :: 7:24 pm

Thank you for sharing these storage file sites with us. I was wondering and do have some questions while looking at, say, the STUFFSAFE site. I thought about signing up, then I wondered…with all the property and document information and the values we list on do we know that someone internally isn’t taking all our information and may use it to burglarize just the most “expensive valued” homes?  How can I be assured that what I share is only for MY use and no internal administrative eyes can open my files to see what recorded values I have in my home? How safe are these new sites and who set up and manages these sites?


Easy to encrypt it if you're concerned

From Josh Kirschner on October 30, 2012 :: 10:30 am

That’s probably highly unlikely. But if you’re concerned about storing sensitive files online, it’s easy to encrypt them first. Follow the simple steps here:


Old thread, new solution

From Owen Malbec on October 12, 2013 :: 10:08 am

I realize that this is an old thread, but I had it bookmarked.  We’d like to make our solution to this problem known to as many people as possible.  ICEarchive is a USB drive product that fits right in your wallet or purse.  An organized, menu driven interface allows you to store all of your personal information, photos, passwords and documents in an encrypted format that can also be backed up to any place you desire.  We also provide first responders with all of your I.C.E. data, PRE-PASSPHRASE so that if you are ever incapacitated your In-Case-of-Emergency information is available while your personal information remains safe behind your passphrase. We’d welcome the opportunity to tell you more!  Please visit us at and on Facebook.


A Handy Infographic to Help You With Your Inventory

From facebook72612591 on April 17, 2014 :: 6:21 pm

Great tips here on creating a home inventory!  I see that it is an older thread, but it looks like the discussion carries on so I thought I’d let the community know about a handy infographic that walks you through the Top 10 Things To Take a Photo of to get the most back from insurance.  Enjoy!


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