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Insuring Your Antiques

Insurance is a very confusing topic for most people, and very few of us are truly familiar with what our household policies entail. What you may not realize is that any unusual collections or especially valuable antiques are not covered under your normal contents policy. Unfortunately, many people only find this out after disaster has struck. If you own or collect anything that is unusual, of extraordinary value, or special interest, you should have a discussion with your insurance agent. 

Usually the easiest route it to purchase an additional rider that can be added to your current homeowners’ policy. Sometimes this may result in you being required to list each item to be covered separately, which can become a big project if you have a large collection of small figurines, for example. Another thing to consider include how often you add to your collection; if your collection grows frequently, you want to ensure you do not end up under insured. If you sell some of your collectibles at antique fairs or online, you may be considered to own a business, so be sure to discuss that with your agent. 

Often, additional riders for collections and antiques will cover damage to your property from multiple causes, even sometimes some types of damage caused by breakage. Be sure to know what kinds of damage are covered in your particular policy, as not all policies are the same. 

Most policies will pay the least amount possible, usually one of the following:


  • the actual cash value of the property at the time of the loss or damage

  • the amount for which the property could reasonably be expected to be repaired to its condition immediately prior to the loss

  • the amount for which the article could reasonably be expected to be replaced with one substantially identical to the item that was lost or damaged

  • the amount of insurance


Some things to consider when looking into insurance for your antiques:


  • Make sure you know your sub-limits and deductibles. Check your policy or ask your agent.

  • Know whether your contents are covered for "replacement cost"

  • Find out how claims are settled if you decide not to replace an item, or if you can’t find anything similar.

  • Ask about anything that may be excluded from your policy, such as rarities or antiquities.

  • Know if you have "all risk" or "special perils" coverage.


Most policies covering antiques will require descriptions, photos, or appraisals of the items listed. Regardless of what the policy you choose actually requires, it is best to be over-prepared for the aftermath of an accident, in case you need to prove ownership, value, etc. The best way to do this is to be as familiar with your collection as possible. The easiest way to do this is usually a journal or files detailing the objects. 

Keep dated receipts for items you have purchases, and any pertinent documents that were included with the item, whether it was purchased or inherited. Letters, family photos, or pertinent clippings can help prove ownership of an item. Keep any written appraisals done on the item, and any reports that detail the cost and scope of repairs or restoration. Be sure to keep back ups of this information – hard copies in a fireproof safe or in an off site safety deposit box, and digital back ups in case something happens to your computer. 


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