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A woman whose house was burgled has lost out on her insurance claim because she did not have photographic evidence of the items stolen. Vivian Harris, aged 70, returned to her London home to find the doors forced open and her jewellery missing. Many of the items, including earrings, bracelets and watches, had great personal value as they were either presents from her late husband or family heirlooms. However, when she phoned her insurer, Saga, which markets itself to the over-50s, the company refused to pay out. It pointed to the small print in her home insurance policy, which says she has to provide receipts or photographs to make a claim.

As many of the items were gifts or inherited, she never had a receipt and nor does she have photographs. Saga is not alone in this, as other insurers also demand evidence to prove that you owned the items in the first place. For newer items, it would be easier to find a bank or credit card statement to show that the purchase had been made. To be on the safe side, though, the Association of British Insurers is advising people to take photos of all valuables or run the risk of a claim being rejected. For very valuable items, it could be prudent to have an up-to-date valuation too. Although not all insurance companies require proof, it is a sensible move to log all valuables and get them valued, as this also ensures you have adequate home contents insurance cover.

For landlords and buy-to-let investors, this is particularly important and is another reason why a thorough inventory is so necessary. When going from room to room, make a log of everything in there – including light fittings – and take photos of valuable items such as televisions, washing machines, wifi hubs, sofas and tables, for example. Also, keep all receipts, which could also be scanned into your phone or tablet to store with the inventory. That way, if you have to make a claim on your insurance or take action against a tenant, you have all the information in one place.

There is specialist inventory software available to make this easier, which will also ensure that you do not miss anything out. This inventory can then be updated or amended at every check-in and check-out, so that you do not overlook damaged or missing items.