Insuring Your Collections
by Bob Brooke


It's estimated that only 27 percent of antique and collectible collectors insure their collections. While the Number One reason to insure your antiques and collectibles is theft, there are others, including fire, flood, and natural disasters.

Antiques and collectibles cannot be replaced as easily as newer items, such as computers, televisions, and furniture. In fact, some antiques may be one-of-a-kind. So you’ve probably shied away from insuring your collections because you figure that if you can’t replace the items, why bother. What you fail to consider is the value of the items you’ve collected.

Since many collectors are amateurs, they don’t think about insurance on their collections. What if a thief stole or destroyed some or all of your Depression Glass collection? Would home owners’ insurance cover the loss? Would the insurance company take your word for what pieces you had? Would you be able to remember each piece and the value of each piece in your collection? In most cases, the average collector doesn’t have enough content insurance to cover both the normal contents of his or her home and their collection?

Some insurance companies won’t cover the lose under a regular homeowners’ or an apartment contents policy. They usually require special antique insurance for such items. Other insurance companies will cover a collection under regular homeowners’ insurance, as long as the policy has sufficient value to cover everything. It’s important for you to check with your insurance carrier for their requirements.

Insurance Options for Collectors
You’ll find many options for insuring your antiques and collectibles. But getting the right amount of coverage and knowing where to start can be both frustrating and confusing.

There are four types of insurance policies that you can choose from:

—homeowners insurance with adjusted
       antiques and collectibles coverage.
—homeowners insurance with an antiques
       and collectibles rider.
—a separate policy with your homeowners
       insurance company.
—a separate policy with a specialty
       insurance company.

The first is the best option if you have a small collection or are just starting one. The second works well if you have a small to medium-sized collection. The third is the best if you have a large collection or one with rare items. And the fourth works well if you have a very large, specialized collection.

What Types of Items Are Covered?
Your homeowners policy will only cover personal property. And while you can argue that anything you own is personal property, insurance companies don’t see it that way. Although they consider personal property to include the contents of your home, only some antiques and collectibles have limited coverage. For instance, artwork, collector items (that can mean just about anything), sports collectibles, and items designated as “collectibles” such as Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates or Hummel figurines. Don’t wait until you have to make a claim to find out what’s covered. Check with your insurance agent to make sure the items you expect to be covered are actually covered.

Remember, every insurance company, government and country have different rules and regulations regarding insurance claims—and insurance fraud.

As with any other purchase, shop around on the Internet for different policy and coverage options and rates.

Collectibles Insurance Services, of Westminster, Maryland, offers policies for collectors ranging from an annual premium of about $32 for $10,000 to $238 for $100,000 in coverage. These policies insure just about any collectible except jewelry, expensive watches, fine art paintings and art objects, and motor vehicles and require no professional appraisal. You estimate the value of your collection. And the insurance company bases the claim payments on replacement value. For unique or difficult to find items, replacement value is the estimated auction price the item would sell for in a room full of specialist collectors or on an Internet auction like eBay. Any loss over the minimum deductible of $50.00 is paid in full.

American Collectors Insurance, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in business since 1976, provides coverage only for collectors beginning at around $75 for $10,000. Unfortunately, its policy doesn’t cover paper collectibles, china ware, jewelry, coins, watches, flatware, firearms, and fine art.

Document Your Collections
To be sure to collect if you have to make a claim, it’s vitally important to document your collections. You’ll need to prepare an itemized list of all the items in your collections and should include the following information:

—The date you bought the item
—The amount you paid for the item
—Any serial numbers, marking, or signatures
—Damage or repairs the item may have
—Information about the item i.e. date it was made, where it was made,
            what it was made of, has it been in the family and for how long
—Past appraisals, estimates of value or valuations you many have had done
—Detailed Description of the item
—Other information you think would be helpful to an appraiser.

To read more of my articles, please visit my Web site.

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