"Create a home inventory."
It's one of those to-do list items personal finance journalists (me included) often recommend, yet everyone tends to put off (also me). Polls from the Insurance Information Institute estimate roughly half of homeowners have a home inventory, a rate that hasn't budged much over time.
That's not too surprising. Ignorance seems pretty blissful, compared with the tedious prospect of cataloging the contents of every kitchen drawer, bookshelf and stuffed closet.
The good news is, creating a home inventory doesn't need to be such a painful process. (More on that below.)
And make no mistake: it is an essential task.
Last year, natural disasters caused an estimated $330 billion in losses worldwide, according to data from Munich Re. U.S. losses account for half of that total, it found — due to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria as well as severe summer and fall brushfires, and spring storms that included tornadoes and hail.
The U.S. share is bigger than usual. Long-term, U.S. losses have represented an average 32 percent of the worldwide totals, according to Munich Re.
This year is on track to be another one of expensive disasters. Over the first nine months of 2018, the National Centers for Environmental Information logged 11 U.S. natural disaster events that individually racked up losses of at least $1 billion — already placing it as the fourth-worst year (behind 2017, 2011 and 2016) since tracking began in 1980.