How to make a home inventory for insurance

two women look at laptop and sheet of paper at their dining table


Posted February 06, 2024

Could you list all the key contents in your home off the top of your head? Here’s how to make a home inventory to help ensure that you have accounted for your valuables when considering coverage with home and contents insurance.

In the unfortunate event of a fire, flood, theft or other disaster that destroys items in your home, you may need a detailed home inventory to make a claim on your home insurance or contents insurance policy. Read on to find out what a home inventory is, why you need one, and how to best compile a home inventory.

What is a home inventory?

A home inventory is a detailed list of the furniture, appliances, electronics and personal belongings kept in your house, plus proof of their purchase and value.

Why do I need to make a home inventory?

A comprehensive, up-to-date home inventory can help you recover the value of your stolen or destroyed items in an insured event. By referring to a home inventory, you may be able to file a claim faster and more efficiently, rather than trying to remember all your key contents that were lost.

“When you need to make a home insurance or contents insurance claim, it is usually the result of a very stressful event,” RACV Head of Home & Business Insurance Kirsty Hayes says. “Having a home inventory could provide you with peace of mind that you don’t have to remember everything you had and its value.”

When taking out contents insurance, a complete home inventory can help you avoid being underinsured. Underinsurance is when the insured value of your home and contents is less than the rebuild or replacement cost of your property or items. If an unexpected event causes loss or damage to your home, or a thief ransacks your property, you want to ensure that your sum insured can help cover what was lost.

Finally, a home inventory helps you substantiate the value of your items to your insurer, which may assist in maxisming your contents insurance claim payment.

Contents insurance isn’t just for homeowners; renters should also insurance to protect their possessions, as well as landlords and small business owners.


woman sorting through clothes in her bedroom

Don't forget to note down closeted items like clothes. Image: Getty


How to make a home inventory for home and contents insurance

Save your receipts

When you make a purchase, always save the receipt until you have photographed it and copied down the details in your home inventory. Ideally, you can use the receipts to make note of the item’s make and model, serial number (if applicable), purchase location, date of purchase, and purchase price. Along with a photograph of your new possession, these details make for an easier claims process.

You likely won’t have receipts for everything you already own. For those items, list a brief description with a photo and the details of the product.

Keep your information safe and updated

It may be best to digitise your home inventory. After all, the same unexpected event that destroys your belongings may also destroy your meticulous home inventory in the filing cabinet. Instead, consider creating an online spreadsheet or using a smartphone app so that you can access your records digitally.

When keeping digital records, research the app or website first. Make sure to go through the privacy settings, keep your information private, and don’t list your home address anywhere on your home inventory.

Try to update your home inventory every year – at tax time is popular, since you will already be going through receipts. Remove sold, donated or thrown out items from your home inventory, and add any new items you’ve accrued since your last update.


flooding gutters in heavy rain

Floods are a common risk in Australia. Image: Getty


Go room by room or group by group

You might be surprised by how much ‘stuff’ you own when making a home inventory. To avoid becoming overwhelmed or forgetting anything, decide how you will compile your inventory. Will you go room by room (bedroom, study, living room, garage...) or group by group (furniture, clothes, books, artwork)? Or, if you are moving or spring cleaning soon, you could record your home inventory as you pack or clean.

To help you remember everything, here are common household items that people forget to insure.

More: Estimate the approximate cost to replace your home contents with the Home Contents Insurance calculator

Make sure you're not underinsured

Underinsurance could result in your home insurance or contents insurance claim not providing adequate cover for your loss.

“Underinsurance is a major problem in Australia, particularly given the prevalence of natural disasters,” Hayes explains. “After a bushfire or flood, a home can become a total loss, whereby the home needs to be completely rebuilt, or majority of the contents need replacing. In this situation, if the household doesn’t have sufficient home and contents insurance coverage to rebuild or replace contents, it makes an already distressing situation much worse.”

You may not realise just how much your home contents are worth until you create a complete home inventory. Your possessions have likely been collected over years and may add up to tens of thousands of dollars. For example, consider how many items of clothing are in your closet; how many pots, pans and utensils are in your kitchen; or how many tools are lying around your garage.

“The thought of listing all your contents can seem overwhelming, but once you work out the value of your contents, you’ll be glad you did it,” says Hayes. “The final amount is usually a lot more than people think.”

To avoid underinsurance, keep your home inventory and insurance up to date. Check your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement for any coverage limits of specific items (such as watches and jewellery) on your home or contents insurance policy, and chat to your insurer if you need a higher coverage limit.


RACV Home and Contents Insurance offers flexible cover for homeowners, renters and landlords.
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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s)issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Ltd ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.