Personal Possessions 101: The Basics of Insuring High-value Items

Dec 29, 2020

By Lisa Brown, Managing Director, Altus Private Risk

Perhaps you’ve recently inherited a family heirloom or been gifted that diamond bracelet you’ve been eyeing—now what? Once you’ve invested in a big purchase, it may seem like all that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy it, but there are a few boxes left to check before you can rest assured that your possessions are properly protected.

From fine art and wine collections to jewelry and watches, valuable articles often require extra insurance coverage. Here are a few basic rules of thumb to keep in mind when seeking a private collections or valuables policy.

What and When to Get Insured

Every carrier is different, but generally speaking, your standard homeowners, renters or condominium insurance policy typically covers personal items such as jewelry, silverware, fine art and antiques. But just because this basic coverage is available doesn’t mean that it will be enough—it is usually capped with a sublimit. For example, jewelry may be covered at a maximum of $5,000 as part of your home’s “contents insurance.” You should always consider purchasing additional valuable articles coverage if you want to insure several pieces or higher amounts.

Depending on the type and value of your items, you can pursue different options to protect your personal property. Blanket coverage provides a total limit for any number of items, and it usually includes a sublimit per item. So, if you have a $20,000 blanket policy, it will cover any and all pieces of jewelry up to that amount.

Scheduled coverage, on the other hand, allows you to itemize your collection and have each piece listed and covered for a specific amount. This type of insurance may be a little more expensive, but it can be worth the extra cost if you have a sizable collection. If you’re recently engaged—congratulations!—and be sure to schedule your ring, as high-value jewelry should be accounted for and listed separately.

How to Keep Your Valuables Safe

As the saying goes, there’s no time like the present. When it comes to insuring your valuables, purchase coverage or include new items under your existing policy as soon as you buy or receive an item. Begin by contacting your broker and providing a receipt that includes each piece’s description and value. If items are older or handed down, have an appraiser take a look and appraise each piece for its replacement cost. Don’t forget to review your scheduled items each year to ensure values are accurate. Some carriers may increase the jewelry value on your policy by two to three percent annually to make sure you’re adequately insured.

While we’re on the subject of safety, always store your jewelry in a home safe or hotel safe when travelling, and never store valuables in checked luggage. Another way to keep your high-value items safe is to invest in a home fire and burglar alarm system. Bonus: If your home has a centrally monitored fire and burglar alarm system, you will receive a credit on your home and valuable articles insurance.

Valuable articles coverage can be a lifesaver, protecting your treasured items and providing peace of mind when you need it most. Whether you’re a fine art fanatic or baseball card collector, insuring your personal possessions and getting them appraised on a routine basis is the key to keeping them safe. If it’s sound, objective advice you’re seeking, contact your broker to help you identify the right coverage for you. When collaborating on the ideal plan, just know that insurance is only one of the many tools that can be used to hedge and transfer certain risks so that you can get to where you want to go.