Beyond Excess Policies

Most people have heard of an umbrella policy, or an excess policy as it is sometimes called. If you have high enough limits on your car and home insurance, it is likely that you can protect yourself from any extraordinary liability claims with such a policy for just a few dollars, relatively speaking.

But what if you own some really fine objects that would kill you, at least financially, to replace?  An umbrella policy probably won’t handle those, and they are usually not covered sufficiently under your homeowner’s or renter’s policy, either. You can schedule valuables on those policies that is, add them separately for a slightly higher premium.  But if the objects are really valuable and truly unique, even scheduling them won’t bring you solace or sufficient bucks to replace them or to go to France to grieve if they are stolen, lost in a fire, or carried off in a flood.  You need something more than schedules.  But what?

Consider Mysterious Disappearance Coverage, or other interesting variations, such as pair and set replacement and breakage insurance. Several companies offer these sorts of insurance.

Here are some specifics to look for if you are considering getting some special coverage for pairs, sets or even singles of valuable, portable jewelry, collectibles or unique items in your home:

  • ·  Will the items be covered if you ship them to someone else–to a dealer for sale, or even a relative as a gift?  One insurer, for example, will cover such items among the wide range of categories they insure if the items are sent by secure mail or other secure shipping method.  Others will, too.
  • ·  Will the insurance transfer if you give your mother’s ruby earrings to your daughter, now living in Dusseldorf?  Some companies let you list the recipient as the policyholder when you request the policy on those items.  You can also have the bill and policy sent to you, however, so the surprise isn’t ruined.
  • ·  What about loose gemstones?  Some people like shopping for unset emeralds when they travel to Colombia, or they’ve got some nice stones someone removed from their settings and never got around to putting back.  Look for companies that will cover these.
  • ·  What if one member of a set goes missing?  Return the remaining piece of the set to your insurer, and you can often receive the full replacement cost of the set.  Several companies provide this sort of insurance.
  • ·  What if you are going to inherit a nice pile of valuables, but you can’t quite predict when?  You want them covered the minute they are legally yours, but how can you arrange it?  With some companies, you have a 90-day window of coverage jewelry, fine arts or collectibles you might inherit or decide to purchase as long as your other portable assets are insured with them.
  • ·  Suppose you have some valuables that suddenly catch fire in the public imagination, and appreciate far beyond what they were worth when you insured them?  Look for a company that offers insurance that can also fluctuate. One company will pay for a loss of up to 150% of the itemized amount if the market value just before your loss occurs is greater than that amount.
  • ·  What about breakage?  Your gemstones might disappear, but they won’t break.  Your ancient Etruscan wine flask probably won’t disappear, but it certainly could break.  Check into breakage coverage, too, while you’re going beyond the excess policy.

Sidebar: 

Who knows what valuables you own?

Many people don’t really know what they own.  Here’s a checklist of things of value you might have forgotten about completely, but which you might want to insure:

Rings, watches, necklaces of gold, silver or platinum with or without gemstones; garments made of sable, mink or fox; paintings and other artworks; art glass, antique glass; rare books; porcelain figurines; antique furniture and lamps; collections of small objects from baseball cards to pens; silver utensils, gold-plated tableware, antique pewter; crystal; vintage wine collections; antique firearms and swords; currencies; maps; rare plants. 

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