Making an insurance claim is the last thing anyone wants to do, but sometimes it is a necessity. After all, that’s why we pay our premiums — to make sure we can replace property when it is lost or damaged. However, obtaining a settlement so you can begin rebuilding will be a lot easier if you follow a simple suggestion: Make an home inventory.

Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you get your insurance claim settled faster, verify losses for your income tax return and help you purchase the correct amount of insurance. And as with any task, it’s best to start at the beginning.

Grab a pen and paper (or the electronic versions) and start making a list. Describe each item and noting where you bought it and its make and model. Clip to your list any sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals you have. For clothing, count the items you own by category (pants, coats, shoes, for example), making notes about those that are especially valuable. For major appliances and electronic equipment, record the serial numbers, which are usually found on the back or bottom.

You can also take pictures of rooms and important individual items to have a visual record of your belongings. On the back of the photos, note what is shown and where you bought it or the make. Don’t forget things that are in closets or drawers. If you use your phone or a digital camera, you may also be able to add a description of the item when saving the photo.

Maybe you want to walk through your house or apartment and describe the contents. Or do the same thing using a tape recorder. This can be useful for items such as clothing or kitchenware. You can simply open a kitchen shelf or closet and describe the contents. For instance, in the kitchen, it would be sufficient to state that you have a set of dishes for 12 that includes a dinner plate, salad plate, etch with when and where it was purchased

If you have some special items, be sure to list them separately. Valuable items like jewelry, art work and collectibles may have increased in value. They may need to be insured separately. Finally, be sure to store your inventory in a safe place. If you are the old-school type, keep your list someplace away from your home. Same with a flash drive, or store the list in the “cloud.”

Check with your insurance professional for more tips on how to make the claims process run smoothly and reach a settlement quickly. While you are at it, ask about your current insurance situation and see if you need to make any adjustments.