Few things can be more frustrating than to have all or part of a building and contents insurance claim rejected when it is time to get reimbursement from an insurer after a loss. Unfortunately, many homeowners insurance policies demand a strict accounting of one’s possessions in order to get the maximum payout for a claim, and adjusters hired by the large insurance companies are trained to dispute claims that even look the slightest bit fishy. This is a good precaution on their part, but it regrettably means that many legitimate claims get overlooked. Thus, good record keeping and a full list of contents is essential to get full payment for your claim. To make sure you get the most for your contents insurance claim, follow these steps to get an accurate listing of your contents for your insurer.

Have a Detailed List for Building and Contents Insurance Coverage

Not every home insurance company will tell you that what they really want in the event of a loss is a detailed list of all your possessions, or at least the possessions that you are making a claim for. A simple list with just the name of each item is good, but even better are lists that include dates of purchase and descriptions of your belongings’ appearance. Keeping the receipt is likewise a good idea to prove the worth of the item, even if you only have home renter insurance. Put these receipts in a file folder or attach them to your hard copy list with paper clips or staples.

Take Pictures of Your Contents

It is also vital that you take pictures of every item on your list. Pictures may be more than building and contents insurance companies will demand in the event of a contents insurance claim, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Photos are also good proof of ownership in case there is a dispute. Professional photography is not necessary, just basically clear pictures of any possessions that the insurer might need to cover in the event of a loss. It is particularly important to have pictures of rare and unusual items that companies who write homeowners insurance policies do not have to cover very often. These items may be disputed to begin with, and having pictorial proof can help avoid any problems with the adjuster.

Appraise Valuable Items

Rare, valuable, and historical items should be professionally appraised so that the insurer has a full understanding of the worth of unique items. Like receipts, these appraisals should be keep so that you can find them easily in the event of a contents insurance claim. Just make sure that you get your appraisal from a licensed appraiser that your insurer will recognize. Having an uncertified appraisal will be no help to you in the event of a loss.


If you have collectibles and other memorabilia, you should also be aware that you might need more than home insurance to cover a loss. There are dozens of specialty collectibles insurance companies out there that specialize in the coverage of comic book collections, baseball car collections, rare auto collections, and much more.

Get a Safe Deposit Box

When making a list of contents for a potential future contents insurance claim, it is important that you have a place to store a copy of the list that will weather any loss. It is highly recommended that you rent a safe deposit box. Keeping a hard copy of your contents list in such a box will guarantee that you will be able to access it once the storm, fire, or theft is past. If you have but one list and it is destroyed in a disaster, it will not do you any good when it is time to file a claim. Too many homeowners have gone through all the work of creating a contents list only to lose it in the same disaster for which they will need reimbursement.

Keep an Electronic Copy

In the digital age, there is no excuse not to have an electronic copy of your contents list as another backup. Use a spreadsheet program to write your list and you will have a record that is easily printed out to prove a contents insurance claim or to store in a safe deposit box. The bonus, of course, is that you will also have a good electronic copy as well. An electronic contents list can also be update at will, which makes it more convenient than using only paper and pen to keep your records.


This information on getting an accurate list is essential to keep in mind for a list of contents that you can submit to prove a building and contents insurance claim. If you follow these guidelines carefully, you should have no trouble proving how much the company should pay out in the unfortunate event of a loss.