This post originally appeared on Techlicious.
No one wants to dwell on the negative, but if a disaster strikes—whether in the form of a wildfire, hurricane, or something else entirely—it’s best to be prepared. The biggest step you can take toward being prepared is creating a home inventory, which will help you get reimbursement from your insurance company for any lost possessions. Having a detailed inventory makes it easier to file an insurance claim and will help your claim get processed quickly.
A good home inventory will include a detailed list of your belongings, including descriptions, photos or video, receipts, serial numbers, date of purchase, value—and anything other information that could help prove what you have and what it’s worth. You should inventory all big ticket items, like electronics and furniture, but it’s also important to take inventory of smaller things that could need replacing in the event of a disaster, like clothes and dishes. And, whenever you buy something new, be sure to update your inventory so it’s always current. Still not sure where to start? This checklist from State Farm (PDF) gives you a good outline of inventory basics.
Collecting all of that information may sound like a daunting task, but fortunately there’s tech that can help: cloud services will keep your data accessible wherever you need it and apps can make creating your home inventory a snap.
Check With Your Insurance Company First
Before you get started with your inventory, you should check with whichever company provides your home or renter’s insurance. If they have any specific reimbursement requirements, it’s important to be aware of them for your inventory. Your insurance company may also have their own tools you can make use of—and you may find it more convenient to use an insurance-provided tool that will be sure to collect any specialized data your insurance company might need. Best of all: these tools tend to be free, even if you don’t hold an account with the company.