The short subject line of a recent email from one of our new Home Inventory customers impacted by the continuing wildfires in California reminds me of the importance of an inventory even if it’s a retrospective one. The subject line is “There’s still hope”. Our new customer says, “I’ll be generating a retrospective inventory for my pile of rubble, a currently growing inventory for the apartment where we’ll live, and a totally new inventory for our new home (we hope, in another 2-5 years…)”.

His story breaks my heart, yet reminds me that the goals and benefits of an inventory, even if it is created after unexpected damage or destruction, are are still the same – a smooth and expedient claims process, a fair and accurate payout based on your unique belongings, and a way to move forward to rebuild your life.

So if you’ve been impacted by unexpected damage or destruction and not sure how to create a retrospective inventory of your belongings that may no longer exist, here are a few tips to help get you started whether you use our app, Home Inventory, or not:

  • Document the more valuable items first, items such as appliances, electronics, musical instruments, art, and jewelry, especially if the value of the item is higher than normal for the average income in your area.
  • Go room to room to create a list of your items. Here are some resources with lists of typical items found in the home to help jog your memory:
  • Group clothing by type, for instance, 10 pair of socks, 5 pairs of jeans.
  • Locate digital photos that have been taken in your home. Photos help with proof of possession by showing your items as they exist in your home.
    • Check with friends or family to see if they may have photos that were taken during events in your home.
    • Check your social media accounts for photos that may contain your belongings in the background.
    • Check any cloud storage services you may use to store photos such as iCloud PhotosShutterfly, or Google Photos.
  • Locate important documents related to your belongings, such as appraisals, that may have been stored in a cloud sync service folder such as Dropbox, iCloud Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, GoogleDocs, etc.
  • Download receipts for purchases made online from your online store accounts.
  • Collect details for items purchased using a credit card by downloading past credit card statements.
  • As you gather the details about your belongings and document them, provide the information to your claims adjuster.
  • Keep your inventory file on a sync service like Dropbox or iCloud Drive for access from anywhere.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed, keep going. It’s better to have an incomplete inventory than none at all.

While it’s best to be prepared with an inventory before the unexpected happens, there’s still hope. A retrospective inventory can help provide more accurate details to your insurance company during the claims process, help make sure your claims settlement is fair and accurate based on your unique belongings and amount of coverage, and can help with getting back on your feet more swiftly and smoothly. Lastly, it provides you with a foundation for an inventory to update and add to as you move forward with recovery and rebuilding, so in the future, you’ll be better prepared ahead of time.

Home Inventory is a desktop app available for the Mac computer. It is an Apple Editors’ Choice and available on the Mac App Store. Home Inventory Remote Entry & Home Inventory Mobile Backup are free iOS companion apps for the iPhone and iPad and available on the App Store.

If you’d like to share your experience with Home Inventory, email me at