To Protect Possessions, Americans Need to Know Their 'Stuff'

New iPhone® application from National Association of Insurance Commissioners makes it easy to create a home inventory

Mar 10, 2011, 10:15 ET from National Association of Insurance Commissioners

KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- When choosing homeowners insurance, most consumers think more about the value of the home than about their prized possessions inside. When determining coverage needs, it is important to know all the "stuff" in your home that warrants special protection. Insurable items do not only include luxury items like jewelry and art, but also fun purchases that support personal passions.

Whether it is gourmet cooking gadgets, designer handbags or high-end electronics, what Americans invest in personal passions can have a profound impact on insurance needs. In fact, according to a recent survey(1), those passions may add up to a lot more than you think:  

  • Fashionistas spend more than $1,400 annually on shoes, apparel and accessories.
  • Techies spend approximately $1,300 a year on computers, video games and televisions.
  • Foodies invest an average of $2,400 annually on high-end appliances and fine dining.

One of the best ways to make sure possessions are fully protected is to document them with a home inventory. Now, creating a home inventory is easier than ever thanks to myHOME, a new iPhone® application from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The free myHOME app lets users quickly photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information room by room, and even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing.  

"A home inventory assures you know exactly what you own, and what it is worth, before you need to make a claim," says NAIC President and Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan E. Voss. "Our research, however, suggests almost half of all Americans don't have an inventory of their possessions. Our new iPhone® app makes it easy to document your stuff. Knowing what you own will help you choose the right coverage in the first place."

Taking Inventory of Your Home's Contents

Documenting possessions with a home inventory is the most important step homeowners and renters can take to make sure they have enough coverage to fully protect and replace their valuables if something happens.

10 Steps to Complete a Home Inventory

  1. Make a list of possessions, including 'celebration' purchases such as jewelry and fine art.
  2. Think about family heirlooms, collections and furniture. Also consider items related to everyday leisure time, from flat-screen televisions to custom guitars.
  3. Take note of commonplace items such as toys, CDs and clothing. And do not forget items you may only use occasionally such as holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools and high-ticket items kept outside your home such as landscape and swing sets.
  4. Attach copies of original sales receipts and/or appraisal documents to your inventory. Be sure to note model and serial numbers.
  5. Group your possessions into logical categories, i.e., by hobby, by room in your home.
  6. Carefully photograph or videotape each item and document a brief description including age, purchase price and estimated current value.
  7. Remember to open drawers and closets to document what's inside.
  8. Store your home inventory and related documents in a safe, easily accessible place such as a secured site/file online, a fire-proof box or in a safe deposit box. You may want to share a copy with your insurance provider so he or she can make necessary updates to your coverage.
  9. Review and update your inventory annually and whenever you make a significant purchase.
  10. To get started, download the free myHOME app for iPhone® users by visiting the iTunes® App Store or searching 'NAIC' in the app store from your phone. Or go to to print a simple home inventory checklist.

Choosing Home Insurance That Fits

Keeping a home inventory also helps consumers stay on top of their family's changing insurance needs. Consumers often are surprised by what is not covered under standard home insurance policies:

  • On average, home contents are reimbursed only up to 50 percent of the home's insured value, i.e., $50,000 to replace the contents of a home insured for $100,000.
  • Standard policies impose limits on replacement coverage for certain types of personal property such as jewelry, furniture, furs, firearms and electronics.

"Exactly how much you'll be reimbursed for lost, stolen or damaged personal property can vary greatly from policy to policy," says Voss. "A home inventory helps consumers determine what they need to protect and keep their policies up to date. Knowing what is and isn't protected, and for how much, helps families prepare for the worst. The last thing you want when misfortune strikes is to learn your insurance policy won't replace your losses. And by choosing coverage to fit their life stages, consumers also may save money."

Consider the following life-stage related insurance facts:

  • Single Parents and Families: Many homeowners' policies do not cover items such as laptops and televisions stolen from a dorm room; if your son or daughter lives off-campus, you will need renter's insurance. Most policies limit coverage for jewelry to $500, which typically is not enough to replace a favorite pair of diamond earrings or a wedding ring. The standard $1,000 limit to replace computers may not be enough for a busy household with multiple PCs.  
  • Young Singles: Consider purchasing renter's insurance to cover your possessions, even if living with roommates — do not rely on the landlord's insurance. Items such as sports equipment or navigation systems stolen from your vehicle typically are not covered by auto insurance and must be filed against homeowners or renter's insurance.  
  • Military: Most policies do not cover personal property taken with you while deployed to a war zone; if you store belongings left behind, you likely will need additional off-premises coverage.
  • Seniors: If you start a home-based business after retiring, make sure your office equipment is fully insured.
  • Domestic Partners: The standard homeowners or renter's policy only covers possessions of the person named on the title or agreement. If your name is not listed, your assets may be at risk.

Visit for more home insurance tips or to locate your state insurance commissioner, an unbiased resource for insurance information specific to where you live.  


Formed in 1871, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is a voluntary organization of the chief insurance regulatory officials of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The NAIC has three offices: Executive Office, Washington, D.C.; Central Office, Kansas City, Mo.; and Securities Valuation Office, New York City. The NAIC serves the needs of consumers and the industry, with an overriding objective of supporting state insurance regulators as they protect consumers and maintain the financial stability of the insurance marketplace. For more information, visit


SOURCE National Association of Insurance Commissioners