The Smart Life
Your personal property inventory made easy

Homeowner’s insurance, condo insurance, renter’s insurance — they’re all essential to help protect your personal property. Of course, the right protection depends on having the right amount of coverage. A good place to start is with a personal property inventory.

“Having an up-to-date personal property inventory helps you determine how much your possessions are worth so you can get the right coverage, and it may help speed up the claims process should your possessions need to be replaced due to loss or damage,” says Jonathan Boucher, Manager, Residential Product Management for TD Insurance.

Here are his top tips for creating a personal property inventory that includes the information you need.

  • Walk from room to room to survey all that you have. Open drawers, closets and cupboards to remind yourself of items you may have forgotten.
  • Don’t forget items in storage. Survey your garage or storage locker too.
  • Write down the item and the cost. For expensive items, include the brand name and model. When you don’t know or can’t remember the cost of something, a quick online search may help you determine a value — just ensure it’s the exact item or a close alternative. You may want to get more expensive items (like jewellery) appraised.
  • Gather your receipts. “For major purchases, keep your receipts with your inventory,” he says. “This will help with listing costs and with the claims process.”
  • Write down the serial number for big-ticket items. “If not already listed on your receipts, check appliances, home entertainment equipment, your computer, and your bike for a serial number,” he advises. “You only need to do this for the more expensive items you own.”
  • Take a picture or video of your belongings. “You don’t need to photograph or video every single item. A photo or video scan of the room should be enough,” he says.
  • Don’t underestimate your clothing. “A common item that people underestimate is their clothing,” explains Mr. Boucher. “For example, even if there’s a fire nearby, the smoke alone may damage most or all of your clothing, even if the fire never reached your residence.” And what we spend on clothing can add up. According to Statistics Canada, in 2009, the average Canadian household spent $2,841 on clothing alone; $4,272 for couples with children.
  • Keep it up-to-date. Bought new flooring, appliances or home-theatre equipment? Add it to your inventory. “Even if a new purchase fits into your existing coverage amount,” says Mr. Boucher, “it’s still a good idea to keep a record of it.”

This personal property inventory template from the Insurance Bureau of Canada will help you get a room-by-room tally of all your possessions. Once you’ve created your inventory, be sure to keep it safe.

“Where you keep it depends on if it’s on paper or digital,” says Jonathan Boucher. Paper inventories, photo prints and receipts should be stored in a safe place away from your home. A safety deposit box is ideal. For a digital inventory, uploaded it to a backup site or email it to yourself.

Expert tip: There are many apps available for your smartphone or tablet. For a list, search “property inventory app” and your device. Before you download one, ensure it provides backup and online access (not just from your mobile device).

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Home insurance protects more than you might think

Home or condo insurance and renter’s insurance provide coverage for your property (including your furniture, home entertainment equipment, bike, computer and jewellery) in case of loss or damage. But there’s more to it than that. Your policy may also:

  • Protect your living expenses — if loss or damage means you can’t live in your home temporarily.
  • Protect you — should you be found liable if someone is injured on your property.
  • Protect your property — even if it’s not in your house when it’s lost, stolen or damaged.

Click here to see the many advantages the right coverage can bring.

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Get insurance that makes sense for you

“Whether you own a house or condo, or prefer to rent, most insurance packages are flexible enough to fit your needs and your budget,” advises Jonathan Boucher, Manager, Residential Product Management for TD Insurance.

For a policy that makes sense for you:

  • Get a quote online. It's easy to do, there's no obligation and you'll see if you're eligible for any discounts.
  • Speak to an insurance advisor. A qualified representative will answer your questions, provide a quote and help ensure you have the best coverage for your situation.
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