You bought a renters policy—now what?

Smartphones make insurance easy. First, you find the right level of coverage for your apartment, condo or co-op. You sign up and pay. Done!

Not so fast.

There’s still a few more steps you must take to get the most protection from your policy. Take a little time for these “must-dos” now. If you have to file a claim someday, the process will take less time. And so will the wait for your reimbursement check.

What to do after you buy a renters insurance policy

Take photos.

Walk through your living room, kitchen, bedroom. Get a few well-lit images of each piece of furniture—but only those that belong to you. If you have a roommate, they need a separate policy to cover their possessions.

Zoom in closer for the electronics and appliances to capture brand and model.

Open the closet doors and storage units. Photograph the contents. Same for dresser drawers, bookshelves and audio cabinets. Have a hobby? Get photos of your quilting fabric, your paints and easels, your tubas.

If your condo or co-op has a garage or shed, be sure to get images of tools, sports equipment, bikes and other property stored inside.

Make an inventory list.

You don’t have to document every pair of socks. But you should make a list with general categories, with details for the bigger ticket items.

  • Electronics:
    Speakers. Games. Computer. Laptop. Cell phone. Record the brand, model, serial number, month of purchase and price.
  • Appliances:
    From mixers and commercial-grade coffee makers, kitchen appliances can cost hundreds to replace. If you furnished a condo or co-op with a refrigerator, stove and air filtration system, that total grows to thousands of dollars.
  • Clothes:
    A general overview of your everyday and special occasion clothes comes in handy if you file a claim. An approximate number for work suits or dresses, casual clothes, uniforms, sports gear and shoes and boots is a good place to start.

Learn more about how to create a home inventory list

Gather receipts.

Find as many receipts as you can, especially for items that cost more than $100. If those bolts of quilting fabric add up to $500+, keep a few receipts to show per-unit price. The more receipts you can show to your insurer when making a claim, the better.

Make copies.

Make at least one copy of your photos, inventory list and receipts. Keep the original at home and at least one copy in another location, such as a locked drawer at the office or a family member’s house. You may also want to scan all records and send them to cloud storage. Online storage makes it easy to forward your photos and inventory list to your insurance company if needed.

Update as needed.

Renovating your condo? Buying an even wider widescreen TV? Be sure add photos, serial numbers, receipts and other details to your inventory record and copies. Delete anything you sold, donated or threw away.

When it’s time to renew your policy, read through the list. Add and delete as needed. If you’ve added a lot of new furniture, electronics or other higher-priced possessions, consider increasing your coverage for the coming year.