Hurricane preparedness begins long before a storm hits, and requires more than an emergency kit. One aspect is being able to prove to insurance companies what was in the house before it was damaged.

Tropical Storm Chris developed off the North Carolina coast, but kept out to sea. If that storm had come inland — or any other strong storm, for that matter — and damage someone’s home, the insurance company would want a list of property damaged. 

However, Consumer Reports said almost 70 percent of people don’t have an inventory of valuables. 

So, the first step is creating a home inventory. This inventory list shows the kinds of items one would record in various rooms around a house. Inventories need to include everything from wall art, to appliances, to lamps, and anything else an owner would want to be reimbursed for.


After Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina last year, state insurance commissioner Mike Causey told CBS 17 it all comes down to one thing: “All the insurance company wants to know is when did you buy the item, and how much did you pay for it?”

There are many ways to keep track of possessions. A paper list can get damaged in a flood, fire, or hurricane, so an off-property list is recommended. Some of the best ways include renting a safety-deposit box, or on the internet.

A smartphone can also be used to film a room and its furnishings. Shoot a video, showing the room and slowly panning to each object while narrating what it is.

  • Concentrate on big ticket items first.
  • Capture serial and model numbers.
  • Don’t forget to open drawers and cabinets photograph what’s inside

Any and all receipts can also be photographed. It helps prove what an item cost when it was bought.

Inventory lists should be updated annually to account for new possessions. 

Another way to use technology to keep up with an inventory is by using smartphone apps. Many are free, and some can cost as many as $40. Some high-end apps include ways to make sure the right kind of insurance coverage in place.

Insurmatch lists a number of popular apps. 

Creating an inventory can be a daunting task. Experts suggest starting with one room and logging the most recent purchases. Then add older items.

Don’t be afraid to take a number of days to put the inventory list together room by room. 

Renters should also keep an inventory, and should also be sure to have renter’s insurance.

Outside help is available for those that have questions about making an inventory, or about insurance in general. The N.C. Insurance Commissioner also has a hotline open for insurance problems or questions: 1-855-408-1212.

The hotline is staffed by people who have expertise in property, life, and health insurance policies. They can also help with questions about renter’s and traveler’s insurance, too.

One of the most important things to remember is that the more information people are able to provide to the insurance company, the better off they’ll be in getting damaged items replaced.