Some items you own may not be fully insured if lost or damaged. This article will explain those items and let you know your options for adding more coverage. If you have anything valuable, you should ensure you have the coverage you need.
What does an insurance company consider to be “valuable things”?
This list of items will vary from one insurance company to another, but many items seem to be included by most companies. Here is a list of some of those items:
- Art of any kind (i.e., painting or sculpture)
- Expensive jewelry
- Collectibles, perhaps coins or stamps, for example.
- Fur coats
- Musical instruments
- Cameras and other electronic devices
This list is not comprehensive, but these are some of the more common items insurance companies limit the amount of coverage you have with your homeowner’s policy.
In our articles “How to Get Homeowners insurance” and “How to Get Renters Insurance”, we reviewed that the standard policy is for an owner-occupied residence of up to four living units and includes replacement cost coverage. You can learn about other types of policies in those articles.
I thought I had replacement cost coverage of personal property
When discussing limits on valuable items, we often hear a question: “I thought I had replacement cost coverage?” Let’s review first what the personal property coverage in your homeowner policy is all about, which is essential to learning how to insure your valuable items.
The standard home policy with replacement cost coverage means your personal property will be replaced if you experience an event that your policy covers. A kitchen fire is an example we can use, and personal property would include an Alexa / Siri device, silverware, pots and pans, cooking utensils, glasses, plates, etc.
The cost to replace these items is easy to determine daily, and the insurance policy will cover these typical kitchen items. There is nothing unusual or extraordinary about the items on this list, and it may have cost you $50 when you bought your silverware years ago, and if it costs $200 today, that’s what gets covered.
But you cannot Google the value of everything you may own. What’s a 150-year-old Steinway piano worth? Grandma’s solid gold wedding band and 6-carat diamond ring would cost what to replace? Maybe it is not replaceable, and you will be paid money for your loss.
Are these high-value items covered at all?
Every home item is covered in a standard policy with replacement cost coverage for personal property. There is a cap or limit to how much the insurance company will pay for the items the insurance company deems highly valuable.
A typical maximum amount is $2,500 per item. Did the 150-year-old Steinway get ruined in a fire? You will get $2,500. Was Grandma’s ring ruined in the same fire? That would also get you $2,500. If your policy had a total amount for personal property of $50,000, you would have $40,000 to pay for the remainder of your personal property after these two items are paid out.
The good news is that you can insure these high-value items for more if you feel that is important. Or you can run the risk that since no one has played the piano in your family for years, maybe it is not vital to insure that for more. For Grandma’s ring, you decide to put it in a firebox to protect it and not insure it for more.
There is no wrong decision; you must know you have an option. So what are your options if you want to insure these high-value items for a higher amount?
How do I insure high-value items for more?
Once you have decided you have an item you want to insure for more money, the next step is determining the item’s value. Finding a similar item on eBay may give you a guide or direction, but that will not be acceptable to the insurance company.
You will need to obtain a third-party appraisal from a qualified source. To determine the value of Grandma’s ring, you will need a jeweler to provide a written appraisal. This jeweler needs to be a professional, not your neighbor’s sister’s BFF, who makes jewelry as a side business.
Suppose the appraisal comes in at $4,000. You then decide if it’s worth insuring for more than the $2,500 in your policy. What if the appraisal comes in at $15,000? That value is certainly worth considering insuring at the higher amount.
The next step is to submit the appraisal to the insurance company and ask them to list this item separately on your policy. Your policy’s personal property portion will no longer cover the item; it will be a stand-alone item. Including the item as a stand-alone is known as “scheduled personal property.”
The description will include as many details as possible when scheduling the item on the policy. The homeowner should include serial numbers or unique markings with the description. The insurance company wants this as detailed as possible, so they know exactly what is included in this scheduled part of your policy.
What does it cost to schedule personal property?
The only way to know this is by submitting the appraisal to the insurance company. They evaluate the appraisal and perhaps come back with some questions or request some photographs. Then they will let you know the cost of adding the scheduled personal property to your policy.
At that time, you decide if it’s worth putting this high-value item on a schedule in your policy. If the insurance company tells you it will cost one dollar to insure Grandma’s ring, that would be a no-brainer. But what if the cost to insure the ring is ten thousand dollars? That would be a lot to pay yearly to cover a ring worth $15,000.
Every insurance company will determine the cost for each item you want to schedule, which is typically far less than the item’s value. But you decide after the appraisal is done and after the insurance company gives you a cost to include the item on a schedule.
Some people assume it is costly to schedule a high-value item. We cannot give you an exact number for the cost, but a rule of thumb is that it often costs about one or two percent of the item’s value. We cannot stress enough that each insurance company will be different, but we also wanted to give you at least some guidance.
Is scheduled personal property still at replacement cost?
When you schedule a high-value item, that typically also provides more coverage than your homeowner’s policy. For example, your policy may provide up to $2,500 for the ring if damaged at home but only $500 if damaged on vacation.
You also may not have a deductible if you ever need to claim an item you scheduled on your policy. When you schedule an item on your policy, you typically are covered for more types of losses and for a higher amount than your standard policy provides.
How to add this “valuable” coverage to your policy
Adding these to your existing home or renter’s insurance policy usually takes less than a day. If you own something you’re concerned about, take action. Contact your insurance agent or carrier and ask that it be added to your policy immediately.
For further details regarding how your “low” value stuff is insured, be sure to read “What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Me For?”. Scroll to the section entitled personal property coverage for more specific information.
If you’ve had just about enough insurance knowledge, and are ready to turn things over to us, tap the Get a Quote button below. Or, if you have a question we haven’t answered, use the contact form below, and one of our insurance pros will provide an answer ASAP.