Jewelry is something most adults purchase and accumulate and for which the value is far in excess of what standard policies cover. I thought about this after coming across a post, What Does it Mean to "Replace" a Lost Diamond Bracelet Under State Farm’s Homeowner’s Policy, by Mark Nation. Insurance agents study what their clients may need for insurance purposes. They should strongly urge that most of their clients schedule jewelry items because, chances are, policyholders are otherwise underinsured under most standard forms. Further, the perils to jewelry are extraordinarily limited under the standard form, so agents should be making certain that their clients are aware of and purchase the proper coverage for jewelry items that are valuable and emotionally important.

My suggestions and impressions are supported by the editors of the FC&S Bulletins. The following is what they noted regarding the need to need for agents to implore their clients to schedule valuable property:

Homeowners forms commonly limit amounts paid for loss to certain classes of property. For example, the 1991 Insurance Services Office (ISO) form HO 00 03 limits are: money, coins, gold and silver, $200; securities, $1,500; watercraft, $1,500; trailers, $1,500; theft of jewelry and furs, $1,500; theft of guns, $2,500; theft of silverware, $2,500; business property on the residence premises, $2,500; business property off the residence premises, $500; and certain electronic devices, $1,500.

When discussing homeowners insurance with a client, the agent should make sure that the client understands there is often a need to increase the coverage for these classes of property, either by endorsement to the homeowners policy or by separate insurance…

Other areas to be explored for possible coverage needs include the client’s outside interests and hobbies. Photography, sports, collecting antiques or memorabilia may call for additional insurance. Emphasize to the client that although these particular items are not limited by dollar amount in the basic policy, there may not be enough insurance to cover all of them plus the other unscheduled personal property in the home in case of a large or total loss. Think, for example, of a $50,000 grand piano. If the insured has a $200,000 home, with 50% (or $100,000) for personal property, in event of a total loss that leaves, after replacing the piano, only $50,000 to replace an entire household’s contents.

Also, many of these items—because of their portable nature and use in many places—are subject to losses not covered by the homeowners forms. A strong selling point for the agent is the “open perils” coverage provided by scheduling. For example, the insured may carry an expensive camera on a trip. While photographing the Grand Canyon, she drops it over the edge of the canyon and breaks it. There is no named peril that provides coverage. Also, neither the ISO schedule HO 04 61 10 00 nor the AAIS schedule ML-61 exclude loss by flood or earthquake, as do the underlying homeowners policies.

I discussed this last year in Insuring Valuables And Collectibles and stated:

Most standard homeowners policies do not pay loss of market value for these items and have significant dollar limitations on recovery. Most collector’s insurance policies pay the reduction and loss of market value when a loss occurs. Further, the deductibles are generally less and, unlike most homeowner policies, the perils of flood, earthquake, accidental breakage, and expanded water loss are generally covered.

If you do not want to be underinsured and you are fortunate enough to have items of financial value, do yourself a favor and buy collector’s coverage. The peace of mind that comes when insuring these items cannot be overstated.

I once had a client who lost a valuable collection. He told me that the money he received from his collector’s insurance policy allowed him to go back and enjoy the process of accumulating items for his collection. His passion for what he truly enjoyed was restored. As is often the case in life, wanting and obtaining is often far more pleasurable than the having.

In Some Thoughts and a Story Regarding Insurance Fraud I also provided some advice regarding how to make certain valuables are adequately covered:

Collectors should always get an independent appraisal and expertization before purchasing from a dealer or at auction. Some dealers and auctioneers advertise and promote items which are not authentic, damaged or altered. Dealers often make expert repairs which are difficult to detect and make the item appear pristine. Such alterations subtract significantly from value. Items sold on eBay are notorious for this.

So always follow this rule:

When buying something of value, get the expertization from a true expert not affiliated with the dealer or seller.

The additional jewelry coverage for perils on an open basis is quite significant. It is not just that the values are limited under the standard forms. The risks are limited. FC&S had this remark regarding this issue:

Sublimits on certain classes of expensive personal property in the homeowners exist because the policy is written and priced for the “average” exposure. Anyone who has items in excess of the limits in the policy is deemed to present a risk greater than the “average.” Because of the susceptibility to theft and “mysterious disappearance,” the premium to insure jewelry in particular can be substantial, which may give some insureds second thoughts about scheduling. However, there are definite benefits in scheduling the property. First, as stated above, scheduling provides open perils coverage.

Coverage for personal property on the homeowners is on a named perils basis, so a woman whose toddler throws her diamond engagement ring down the garbage disposal would find no coverage under her homeowners policy. The only excluded causes of loss that apply to scheduled jewelry are wear and tear, gradual deterioration or inherent vice, insects or vermin, war, or nuclear hazard. Gold, for example, will wear away after a time (as when a gold ring is worn for a long period of time), but for the most the coverage is broad enough to allow for virtually all that may befall jewelry. By scheduling, jewelry is even covered for loss resulting from flood or earthquake.

Scheduling jewelry also provides some coverage for newly acquired jewelry if jewelry is already insured—the lesser of 25% of the amount of insurance for that class, or $10,000. The insured must advise the company within 30 days of any acquisitions, and pay any additional premium from the date of acquisition. This coverage does not extend past the policy period.

The lesson is quite clear:

Policyholders should schedule jewelry and other collectables on a separate coverage form that fully protects those expensive, and sometimes priceless, articles. Insurance agents and brokers should inquire about the need and place this coverage as a matter of practice.

  • Insurance Veteran

    I wold also be wise for the agent to indicate in writing that they have discussed this coverage with the insured and get their refusal or acceptance of coverage in writing.

    This avoids the “I didn’t get offered this coverage” excuse when loss occurs.Particular attention should also be paid to property related to business pursuits.

    With folks having home offices, this coverage should be looked at as well.

  • Chip Merlin

    Veteran,

    Great point about the need to have business personal property covered as well. Home offices are becoming the rule rather than the exception.

    And, I just received a private message from an agent which indicated:

    “this is one of the problems with coverage from Citizens–the jewelry and other special coverages (guns, stamps, antiques, furs, etc) are not provided coverage by Citizens, at any price or as an option. They are also difficult if not impossible to obtain on a stand alone basis. This is why homeowners should be very careful when buying a policy from Citizens or being taken out by another carrier.”

  • Jewelry usually requires an endorsement to be covered up to the full value. Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t realize this until it’s too late. Communicate with your agent and ASK QUESTIONS–they won’t bite :)

  • Scheduling jewelry is well worth it to cover those unexpected events that damage your jewelry.

    Excellent article by the Merlin Law Group.

  • Make sure to always get higher coverage than what your value is. It’s worth being assured in case something happens.