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Insuring Your Collectibles

Antique trunk

With Great Collections Comes Great Responsibility. Make Sure You're Covered.

A carelessly discarded Barbie or G.I. Joe might be a valuable collector's item; Grandma's plates destined for the donation box could actually be pricey antiques. The world of collectibles is endlessly fascinating and an accurate manifestation of the old axiom “one person's trash is another's treasure."

If you're a serious collector of anything—it doesn't matter if it's priceless violins or rare baseball cards—you probably have a good idea of what your collection is worth. And you most likely know that you need to protect your collection as it elevates from “hobby" to “asset." If so, you should consider personal item insurance.

Don't Assume You're Covered

You may expect your homeowner's insurance to provide adequate protection for your collectibles and valuable personal items, but that's not always the case. Most home insurance takes into account what you may have paid for personal property, but not its actual value and what it would cost to replace.

An example: Generally, electronics tend to decline in value. But if you inherited your parents' old Apple I Computer, which cost $666.66 new but could now be worth more than $300,000, you need to make sure you're covered with “valuable possessions insurance" for what you can get on the collectibles market if you sold it.

Setting Up Valuable Possessions Insurance

It's critical to gain a clear understanding of exactly what's covered under your homeowner's policy. If you have a lot of valuables, one way you can get better coverage on your personal item insurance is to increase your liability limit. But to protect specific pieces, you may want to consider a “floater" or “rider" schedule. Your pieces would be covered in the event of a fire, flood or disaster; but also, your policy could include accidental loss or damage, such as leaving a valuable book on a train or mindlessly putting it into the recycling bin, which isn't normally covered in home insurance plans. You may find yourself paying more to cover special items, but the reason they're valuable is precisely because they are so difficult to replace.

There's some prep work that goes into insuring your collection:

  • Firstly, take an inventory of what you have that includes updated, professional appraisals, photos and/or videos, and any other relevant documentation. Make sure you load everything up to a cloud server or store it in a different place, in case of fire or flood.
  • Secondly, you'll also want to properly store and secure your collection, and that may require special equipment for transport, climate and moisture control. Keeping valuable wines, for example, not only requires the storage conditions for the wine itself but also for the label and corks. Schedule regular periodic maintenance checks on any climate-control or security equipment, as well—just imagine the uniquely torturous combination of excitement and disappointment you'd feel reaching for that vintage Dom Pérignon only to discover the refrigerator broke and the bubbles have all gone bust.
  • Thirdly, your valuable items are better protected when your home is safe. That means having anti-theft systems in place, making sure your fire alarms and extinguishers and sprinklers are in good working order, and double-checking that you can locate and turn off a water main in case of a broken pipe or flood.

Insuring special items and collections sounds like a lot of extra work, but that's why we're here to help. Connect with a Westfield agent to ask about Wespak Estate, which provides bundled insurance for high-value homes and cars. And then you may not worry so much about breaking open that special bubbly.