You can't rely on your memory. Especially if you're under the stress of having lost all or part of your home.

In order to replace all of your belongings, you'll need to be able to tell the insurance company what you're missing. To come up with a detailed inventory of what you had in order to process a claim, is a daunting task when you're in crisis.

Consumer Reports has a fairly simple way to handle it. Financial Experts at Consumer Reports say one of the best ways to document your belongings for insurance purposes, is with a video. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you can even use the camera on your phone.


Try to capture everything you own. Opening closets, cabinets and drawers, describing what you see as you record.

Be sure to include what’s in your bookcase, art that’s hanging on the walls, and major appliances. And, capture brand names and serial numbers, so your insurer can replace what you had with exact - or similar items.

Focus on what’s valuable. You can skip the cleaning supplies in a closet, for instance. An insurance adjuster is likely to create a ‘bulk estimate’ for those things anyway.

Then, put the video onto a thumb drive and upload it into the cloud or stash it in a safe place, so it’s there when you need it.