Well, it’s hurricane season again and just like you, I am not prepared. I thought about this as I began culling my personal effects in an attempt to simplify my life. I’ll bet that just like me, when you open a seldom-used drawer or closet you are as surprised as I was to see what you find.
Are you any better than I am at remembering what you own and where you put it? Here is a quick test to see if you are. Take a paper and pen and write down everything you can about what is in a room, closet, or drawer you rarely visit.
After you do this, check your memory by surveying the area. Is it time to inventory or appraise your possessions? Is it time to upgrade your insurance policies or add riders to them for especially valuable pieces?
Here are six tips from the Wall Street Journal:
- Get your collection appraised and scheduled if you own valuable pieces, antiques, and artwork that would not be covered under a blanket policy.
- Take an inventory of your valuable pieces and include quality digital photographs, videos, descriptions, invoices, provenance, and appraisal information if you have it.
- Understand your insurance policy. Will it cover equivalent replacement, restoration, or modern replacement only? What sort of perils are covered?
- Know how to store and safeguard your valuables including appropriate lighting, temperatures, and security systems.
- Did you just purchase a new piece for your collection? Contact your insurer right away or perhaps lose the right to have it covered.
- Review your policy each year for changes in value. For example, silver prices have dropped by 50% in the last couple of years. Did you insure your flatware at the higher price? It’s important not to be over or underinsured.
If your policy is over twenty years old (and I just updated an old appraisal for a client that dated from 1991), there are a number of things of which you need to be aware including the following:
- Many collectibles have dropped dramatically in value. You may be insuring things with little value and ignoring those that have increased. Don’t waste your money on insurance that covers things you can buy for pennies on the dollar in the resale market.
- Check your artwork. Some artists have soared in value over the last twenty years.
- Again, the metals market has been volatile in recent years. Review your jewelry and sterling hollowware and flatware valuations.
- Some reproduction furniture manufacturers are coveted and have risen in value. Yours may be one of them.
When in doubt about what to do, call in an appraiser. Most of us are happy to consult with you as to the best way to approach your insurance needs and are here to help make sure you cover what you should, ignore what you don’t, and pay only what you need to pay to get you financially whole again in case of a disaster.
Beth A. Kinstler, ISA-CAPP