Valentine’s Day often brings quite expensive gifts, commonly in the form of new jewelry. Whether you get the engagement diamond of your dreams, a gold necklace or bracelet set, or even an upgrade to a current piece- you should consider protecting it!
Most homeowner policies provide very limited coverage for jewelry. The reason? Jewelry is high-valued (especially in relation to its size), is easily lost or destroyed and is vulnerable to theft (as well as fraud). If you only own a modest amount of jewelry (say just a few hundred dollars), perhaps the limited coverage provided by a basic policy is adequate. However, when high values are involved, consider buying special insurance coverage. A few options are available such as buying supplemental insurance that is attached to your homeowners or tenant’s policy or purchasing a separate jewelry policy.
There are many questions surrounding jewelry insurance, which is why discussing what is needed and expected from separate coverage is very important. Does the coverage consider jewelry values that increase over time? Does it cover mysterious disappearance (when you know the property is gone, but can’t pinpoint when and how the property was lost) and other causes of loss, or just fire and theft? Discussing the coverage also helps you understand the steps you must take to make sure that you keep the maximum coverage in force and whether the coverage you receive is worth the additional price.
In order for jewelry to be covered one must have the proper documentation of its value. If the jewelry has just been purchased, a store receipt or certificate should establish the insured value. However, as time passes or circumstances change, the insured value must be reevaluated. The retailer where you purchased the jewelry may be the easiest source for documenting the property’s value. However, many retailers provide appraisals, some for free. It is important to verify the expertise of the service, especially as, sometimes, there could be a conflict of interest regarding valuations.
Getting an appraisal that affirms your jewelry’s current value from an independent source may be the best way to assure that your property is properly insured. Of course, make certain that you work with a competent appraiser. Don’t be afraid to check their credentials and number of years of experience. It is also helpful to talk to a potential appraiser in order to understand how willing and able they are to explain their work. There are several professional jewelry and appraisal associations that can give you information on appraisers and appraising methods. All of these items are important, especially if you are paying a fee for an appraiser’s services.
Once you’re certain about the value of your jewelry and the adequacy of its insurance coverage, you need to properly handle your jewelry. After all, who wants to actually file a claim? If you own a significant amount of expensive jewelry you may want to look into other precautions such as:
- Get new appraisals every two or three years, sending a copy to your insurer.
- Take photos of your jewelry from several angles; and again, share copies with your agent or insurance company
- Consider a quality in-home security system that includes cameras and a central alarm.
- Store jewelry in a quality storage area such as a secure safe or vault in your home.
- Be cautious of where and when your jewelry is worn in order to avoid becoming a theft target
- When traveling with these valuables, use hotel storage for safekeeping jewelry.
- Do not publicly share pictures or information on social media regarding jewelry ownership or purchases.
- Consider hiding jewelry in unusual spots rather than an easily accessible jewelry box.
- Don’t share information about vacations or extended time away from your residence where valuable jewelry is stored.
- Keep original receipts and all appraisals, especially if they demonstrate that the jewelry’s value is appreciating.
- Ask your jeweler whether they have access to a jewelry identification system that documents a jewel’s distinctive markings (much in the manner of fingerprinting).
- Consider storing jewelry that is rarely worn in a bank or saving institution’s Safety Deposit Box. (Note that such special storage often qualifies for an insurance premium discount)
Again, your first step is to talk to an insurance professional since they share your concern that you have the protection you need at a price you can afford. If it is something you have been considering- give us a call! Get those precious gifts protected.