From Antiques to Baseball Cards: How to Protect Your Collectibles

Collectibles come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’ve collected stamps since age 8 or fine art for the last couple of years, you care about what you’ve assembled and should make sure it receives proper protection. If you rely on your home insurance policy to completely safeguard your treasures, you could put them at risk.

How? Standard home insurance policies typically include contents coverage, which protects your possessions from theft or damage from a covered peril such as fire or wind. However, coverage for high-value items — jewelry, furs and some collectibles — can have strict limits that might not be enough to replace your treasures.

From baseball cards to fine jewelry, every collection is different. There also is variation in the type of insurance you can purchase for it. Whatever the market value of your collection, every item is valuable to you.

Following are three common methods of protecting your items, with pros and cons to help you choose the perfect match:

Rely on your homeowners insurance

If you have homeowners insurance, your policy covers the contents of your house from certain weather events and theft. Some collectors choose to simply rely on their home insurance policy to safeguard their items.

Pros: You won’t pay any more than you already do for home insurance. If you know that the value of your collection doesn’t exceed your personal property limits or any sublimits, your policy can protect your collection at a low cost.

Cons: Your home insurance might not cover all of your possessions. Sublimits for some items can be as low as $200. Familiarize yourself with your policy to make sure your collection doesn’t exceed the limits.

Schedule an endorsement

An endorsement is an addition to your policy that raises certain coverage limits. In this instance, you would schedule a personal property endorsement and pay a bit more per month to raise the maximum coverage for high-value items.

Pros: An endorsement allows you to continue working with your current provider for your insurance needs. It’s also usually the most cost effective way to fully cover your collection or other high-value items.

Cons: This coverage still has limits. While working with your home insurance carrier has benefits, you won’t get the expertise of someone who knows the specifics of your collection and fully understands its value.

Purchase a personal articles floater

A personal articles floater or collectibles policy is a separate policy that allows you to raise your limits for certain items. They can be offered by your provider or by a carrier specializing in your type of collectible.

Pros: Typical personal articles floaters offer coverage for the highest-value items (including those for $1 million or more) and don’t require deductibles (the amount you pay before your provider kicks in on a claim). They also typically offer coverage for more scenarios than standard home insurance. For example, you could be covered if you lose your grandmother’s diamond ring or if an accident in your home damages your rare comic book collection. A collectibles policy also typically offers coverage for items in transit or those stored away from your home.

Cons: Collectibles insurance generally is the most expensive option for coverage. Nonetheless, depending on the value of your collection, the larger price may be worth it.

How do you decide what you need?

If the pros and cons didn’t help you decide how to protect what you collect, take an inventory of your valuables. This should help you determine their value and can help point you toward a coverage type. It also can help you quickly and easily file your claim after an event.

For an inventory, record and save a photo of each item and the following information about it:

  • The date and location of the purchase.
  • The name of the seller.
  • A description of the item, including its size.
  • The purchase price and your best guess at its current value. If you proceed with an endorsement or floater, you’ll likely be required to have your treasures professionally appraised.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that theft is the only danger that could befall your stuff. Theft is only the fifth most common type of home insurance claim, and it is less common than any type of property damage.

Your collectibles are more likely to be damaged in a windstorm or a fire than they are to be stolen. Make sure they receive the proper protection by choosing one of these options. Otherwise your antique furniture or vintage records could go up in smoke.

By Katherine Wood for Zillow.com