Insuring Your Extra Special Things

Insuring Your Extra Special Things

Feature by Karyn Miller, CISR, CIC

When it comes to insuring our homes, we know we need coverage for our house and the belongings within it, but what about those extra special items we own? Like jewelry, fine art, collections, musical instruments, and guns? How are they also insured?

For jewelry, most insurance policies provide a limited amount of coverage for theft—usually anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the policy. Some companies may also extend this theft limit to the misplacement of an item within that value range, but many do not. So, what happens if you have a $5,000 ring and it gets stolen? You won’t have enough coverage unless you have specifically insured the ring for its value. What happens if you lose the diamond out of your $4,000 necklace? Again, you won’t have enough (or any) coverage, unless you specifically insure the necklace.

You can specifically insure jewelry on most homeowner’s policies or on a separate policy altogether. You can do this by providing appraisals and descriptions and can insure with or without a deductible. The cost varies depending on the company, and is usually a specified dollar amount per thousand dollars of coverage. For example, if you want to insure a $15,000 diamond engagement ring with a $0 deductible, and the rate per thousand dollars of coverage is $9, the premium for that item would be $135. When insuring your jewelry this way, you would obtain theft, loss, and breakage coverage.

What about fine art? Fine arts can include— but are not limited to—paintings, etchings, pictures, tapestries, statuary, marbles, bronzes, antiques, rare glass, valuable rugs, rare books, and antique silver. Because these items may be rare, a value needs to be established by a qualified professional. Many universities have art department professors who are competent appraisers, as are staff members of art museums. The rates for this type of coverage varies. You can add breakage coverage for those items most susceptible to breaking, if necessary. If there is a fire and you do not have record of your fine art and do not have appraisals, it will be difficult for values of items to be established, and you may end up not being paid what your items are worth.

The value of collections or collectibles must also be considered when insuring your home. If you have a coin collection which includes rare or current coins, you should have it evaluated by a dealer. These types of collections are best kept in a locked, fireproof safe or vault, and not openly on display. Collector’s items like bottles, figurines, plates, comic books, dolls, trains, baseball cards, or stuffed animals should be listed on a schedule with a description and value for each item. Current publications and/or catalogs can be used to determine values.

Musical instruments are covered as regular personal property on your home policy. However, you may have items of high value that you want to schedule specifically so you are covered for the appraised value. If you are a musician using your instruments for compensation (i.e. you play in a paid band), you will need to insure these items as business personal property in most cases.

Guns and accessories are insured on most home insurance policies, but typically have a limit for theft coverage ranging from $1,500 to $3,000. If you have a gun collection or you own guns valued higher than these figures, you should have them specifically insured. For example, if you have a $10,000 gun collection and your collection is stolen, and your policy only provides $1,500 in coverage, you would be paid the $1,500, less your policy deductible, which would leave you short by thousands of dollars. If you don’t know the value of your guns, you can have them evaluated by a gun dealer to obtain values.

There can be many “extra special” things we own which should certainly be insured properly in the event of a covered loss. When it comes to claims settlement, it is key to have established values on file. Every insurance company is different. It is in your best interest to take time to review your individual needs with a licensed insurance agent and see what your policy may include, or exclude, and what can be added. Make sure you have the right coverage so you can have peace of mind.