Maximize homeowners insurance coverage with a home contents inventory

Published September 21, 2017

Home Inventory Illustration.jpg

Account Executive

You’ve recently purchased your dream home and gone through the hassle of buying homeowners insurance. In the process of purchasing your policy, you were advised that all of your personal belongings in the home would be covered. Then, late one night, a thought occurs: In the event of a catastrophic loss, how will my agent know what belongings were in my home?

Well, it’s a good thing you had that thought, because the burden of proof would be on you.

That’s right!  In the event of the total loss to your home, your insurance carrier is not simply going to cut a check in the amount listed on your homeowners policy Declarations Page for Personal Contents Coverage. You'll need to provide some kind of documentation of the items that were in your home at the time of the loss.

Here are couple of ways you can keep track of your personal belongings:

  • Create a home contents inventory — an itemized list of all of your belongings, along with receipts. It's a daunting task, I know, but for those who do keep an itemized list along with receipts, the claims process is a much easier ordeal. If you think you might be up to it, and would like a bit of help, click on the button at the bottom of this post to order a free Home Inventory Checklist.
  • Walk through your home with a digital camera/video recorder. I strongly recommend this to everyone for whom I write a homeowners policy. Take pictures of everything — especially your electronics. Take photos of the big-screen TV, the Bose sound system and your computer equipment. I'd go so far as to shoot closeups of serial numbers. An abundance of proof is never enough. 

Hardly anyone keeps itemized lists or receipts of all major purchases. More often than not, victims of total loss have no proof of what was in their home, making a terrible situation worse. Don't let that happen to you. After a personal catastrophe, the last thing you want to do is stand in your driveway arguing with an insurance adjuster over what was in your house. Of course I hope you'll never find yourself in such a situation, but if you do, you'll at least take some comfort you'll be fully covered if you've documented the home's contents.

Before beginning your documentation, remember this: If you were to take your home and turn it upside down, everything that fell would be covered under the Personal Contents Coverage. So, take photos and/or video of everything.

After recording the images of your home and contents, make sure to save the images on a flash drive and keep it somewhere safe. Do not keep it in your home! Should a fire destroy your home and its contents, the zip drive and all your evidence will be gone. Take the zip drive to work, keep it at a family member’s house, or place it in a safety deposit box.

There's also software that can help you document the assets in your home and store important documents, such as appraisals, on one easy-to-use website. Sites offering online storage include HomeBinder and HomeZada. Both offer a free version as well as a premium option for which you pay a monthly subscription to receive additional resources.   

You may also want to consider specifically scheduling valuable items into your homeowners insurance. Scheduled personal property insurance extends coverage beyond the limits of the basic homeowners policy. Items you can schedule onto your policy for an agreed value include:

  • jewelry
  • fine arts
  • musical instruments
  • furs
  • watches
  • silverware

To schedule a particular item onto your homeowners policy, you'll need to have a recent appraisal (usually one performed within the previous five years). While scheduling comes with an additional premium, it also provides deductible-free coverage for each scheduled item. 

You've done your due diligence in purchasing home insurance. It's worth doing the additional work to make sure that you'll be properly compensated in the event of a loss.

It's up to you to provide proof of the contents that were in your home. Make sure to take the appropriate steps so that the insurance company will properly indemnify you after a loss.

The checklist we're offering is organized room-by-room and includes items you might find in each of those rooms. There are spaces to record quantity, date of purchase and price. I think it's an excellent tool to help you with this important process, and I hope you'll find it useful.


About Matthew Boyle and Sylvia Group

Matt Boyle higher rez.jpgA licensed insurance producer and Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR), Matthew Boyle is passionate about informing and educating his clients on the coverage they should consider and the products they ultimately purchase. Whether the need is boat or watercraft insurance, homeowners insurance, auto insurance or specialized coverage, he’s committed to designing customized programs that protect his clients and their assets. Matt appreciates meeting and working with new people on a regular basis, and with 15 years’ experience in personal insurance, the last eight as a successful sales executive, he enjoys sharing his expertise. As an independent agent working with the accomplished team at Sylvia Group, he’s able to offer clients options and resources unavailable through most other agencies and direct sellers.

Sylvia Group helps businesses and individuals protect their future by designing insurance, benefits and financial planning programs. We’re a third-generation, locally owned agency known for our commitment to our clients and our community, as well for our industry expertise. Founded in New Bedford, MA, in 1950, headquartered in neighboring Dartmouth, and serving businesses and individuals throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island and beyond, Sylvia Group is certified as a Woman Owned Business Enterprise with the Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office and has the distinction of being the first six-time recipient of the Five Star designation awarded by the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA) for all-around agency excellence.

Upcoming Events

South Coast Bikeway:
Pedal for the Path

Sunday, Sept. 16
9 a.m.-noon
Running Brook Vineyard
Dartmouth, MA

More Information »
Nativity Preparatory School:
Golf, Tennis & Dinner and Auction

Monday, Sept. 17
The Bay Club
Mattapoisett, MA

More Information »
Massachusetts Employee Benefits Compliance

Tuesday, Sept. 18
8:30-10:30 a.m.
Buttonwood Park Zoo Education Building
New Bedford, MA

More Information »
Buzzards Bay Coalition:
Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride

Sunday, Sept. 30
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sakonnet Point, RI, to
Woods Hole, MA

More Information »
SouthCoast Chamber:
Chowder Festival

Sunday, Oct. 7
12-5 p.m.
Pier 3
New Bedford, MA

More Information »
Medicare Open Enrollment for 2019

Tuesday, Oct. 16
11 a.m.-noon

More Information »
Better Community Living:
Sweet Temptations Wine & Food Event

Thursday, Oct. 18
5-9 p.m.
Seaport Inn & Marina
Fairhaven, MA

More Information »
The Truth About Long-Term Care Insurance

Tuesday, Nov. 1
5:30-7 p.m.
Sylvia Group
Dartmouth, MA

More Information »

Sylvia Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter for news and updates about policies, enrollment changes and new laws that affect you.


  • “I come in contact with many insurance brokers in the course of my practice – even more so with the advent of the Affordable Care Act requirements. Some are ill-prepared or still in denial. Others call me from the car on the way to a client meeting asking for a summary of the ACA in ten minutes. On the flip side of this coin is the Sylvia Group agency. Their clients are very fortunate to have a broker who is knowledgeable about employee benefit matters. The fact that Sylvia Group invited me, an ERISA lawyer, to conduct a live client seminar on the new ACA employer information reporting requirements indicates to me that they are engaged in the process and they care about their clients.”

    – RICHARD A. SZCZEBAK, Esq., RAS Law, P.C.

  • “By giving, advocating and volunteering, Sylvia Group has proven they are dedicated to our community. Whether they are volunteering at one of our Day of Caring events or working with us to provide affordable health insurance and benefits to our employees, Sylvia Group does whatever they can do to make a difference for United Way of Greater New Bedford. The team at Sylvia Group is a trusted group of dedicated professionals, and we thoroughly enjoy working with them.”

    – MICHELLE N. HANTMAN, President and CEO, United Way of Greater New Bedford

  • “When I needed assistance with my business insurance program, Jill White immediately responded – and, even more important, she listened. She understood the challenges I had with my former agent, and she and the Sylvia Group team designed a program specific to my restaurant’s needs. I’m confident that with Jill’s expertise and personal attention, Fay’s is in good hands. That gives me the peace of mind to focus on what my family and I do best: serve delicious food and provide great customer service while running a successful business.”

    – EVELYN BETTENCOURT, Owner, Fay's Restaurant and Knotty Pine Fine New England Catering

  • “Sylvia Group is very resonsive to our ever-changing needs. Jill White provided us with wonderful support when we moved our child-care program location. She ensured that our coverage was seamless and that it met all of our program, licensing and funding needs. Sylvia Group always assists us immediately when we have questions and/or requests. We knw we are in good hands and that they have the best interest of our YWCA participants in mind. It's a pleasure to work with the staff of Sylvia Group; they are truly customer-focused.”

    – GAIL FORTES, Executive Director, YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts

  • “Thanks to John Beauregard and the professionals at Sylvia Group, our MassMEDIC membership has paid immediate dividends. Through the BIO Business Solutions® program, Primo Medical received a significant premium reduction on our Professional Liability policy. In addition, utilizing Chubb as our insurance provider and Sylvia Group as our broker, we’re confident that we have business partners who truly understand our insurance needs, provide outstanding loss control services and continue to work with us to lower our total cost of risk.”

    – CHRISTOPHER LAPLANTE, Chief Financial Officer, Primo Medical Group

  • "Getting the right insurance to guard against risks is absolutely critical for nonprofits, as well as other businesses; dealing with a costly claim could force a nonprofit to shut down permanently. Going with the Sylvia Group, we made the right decision and have never looked back. They have gotten to know our mix of services, evaluated our insurance needs and designed an insurance program around our specific insurance coverage needs — allowing us, on a tight budget, to purchase the right amount and type of insurance at the best value. Sylvia Group staff have built strong, personalized helping relationships with our staff. I can sleep at night knowing they make sure that our insurance policies are adequate to cover our risk exposures. I have recommended, without hesitation, the Sylvia Group to my colleagues working in both the nonprofit and for-profit arenas."

    - MARIA A. ROSARIO, Executive Director, NorthStar Learning Centers, Inc.

  • “Sylvia Group is an attentive, professional and knowledgeable insurance agency. They are familiar with the ever-changing rules and regulations when it comes to independent, nonprofit schools., and John Beauregard always goes above and beyond for Friends Academy. Whether it is something small, like registering a new school vehicle, or something bigger, like filing a claim after our greenhouse was destroyed by a hurricane, he treats every question and every claim with utmost importance. Sylvia Group is invested in our program as well; John sponsors and participates in our yearly golf tournament. Sylvia Group is an exceptional insurance company that I would recommend to all my cohorts.”

    – KATHERINE FURTADO, Chief Financial Officer, Friends Academy

  • “The Sylvia Group team provides a multitude of services in all aspects of employee benefits. The team's dedication to their clientele is apparent through their willingness to provide trainings in your office, at their business and through valuable webinar resources. They are readily available to answer questions and help with any issues that may arise. CMHS, Inc. appreciates the relationship that we have enjoyed with the Sylvia Group throughout the years.”

    – JOHN WINTERHALTER, President, Comprehensive Mental Health Systems, Inc.

  • “I want to thank you for this incredible resource, ThinkHR. We will be accessing it frequently and appreciate Sylvia Group making this available to Advanced Eye Centers.”

    - PAUL C. ABRANTES, Executive Director, Advanced Eye Centers

  • “I love your staff. In the first three or four weeks after we moved over to Sylvia Group for our insurance, I have had more communication and attention from them than I had in the seven or eight years we were with our former agency! You have a great team.”

    – PAT CASSAN, Ocean Explorium

  • “I just wanted to take the time to recognize what a remarkable job Danielle Andre is doing. I cannot thank her enough for her time, her kindness and her willingness to make sure I’m comfortable with all the necessary changes that occurred from an insurance standpoint. As a whole, every Sylvia Group staff member has been friendly and knowledgeable, but Danielle has certainly gone above and beyond for me.”

    – SHANNON S., Personal Insurance client

  • “I so appreciate Julie Jennings' help with Medicare planning. It is a relief to be able to consult with a knowledgeable professional on insurance issues. I have no idea how people do this without such help.”

    – CHRIS BLACK, Personal Insurance client

  • “Working with Sylvia Group over recent years has taken our insurance issues from 'groans and moans' to 'no problem.' Rose Lopes, our Account Manager, is one of the most responsive people I have ever worked with. She responds immediately to questions or special requests. It is such a pleasure to work with Rose, who does whatever it takes to find a solution to our needs. We are very pleased… She always has our interests in mind.”

    – LYNNE FOLEY, Director of Human Resources, Five Star Companies, Inc.

  • "Sylvia Group is by far the best insurance agency I have ever dealt with, both personally and in my business. They provide customer support that is not found in other agencies. For example, they take a personal interest in their clients, calls are always taken or returned immediately, and during reviews suggestions are made to offer the most cost effective and comprehensive coverage. When claims occur, they have always been there to facilitate the process. It has truly been a pleasure to have them represent me in my insurance needs."

    - WILLIAM N. WHELAN, Chairman, Whelan Associates LLC