Insuring Your Jewelry: To Insure or Not to Insure
I am Not an Insurance Agent
I am Calla Gold, an opinionated (and excellent) custom designing jeweler in Santa Barbara. So let’s talk about insuring your jewelry from the perspective of my not trying to sell you anything.
Why Am I Talking About Insuring Your Jewelry?
What got me doing this post was when my client Hildy had her custom made by me ring stolen on a trip. Her insurer wanted their out-of-state jewelry store to provide a comparable value ring.
She wanted her family crest, not a generic one. The company eventually paid her to have me replicate her one-of-a-kind ring, but it showed me that not all insurance policies are the same. It taught her that it helps to know if the pieces you are insuring are really insured for replacement. And to ask, “How do you define replacement?”
What Might Happen if You’re Not Insuring Your Jewelry?
Nightmare of all nightmares: You return home after a wonderful night out with your husband to find your home’s been ransacked. It’s been stripped of all its valuables—including all your jewelry—and, horrors of all horrors, you’re not insured!
Grandma’s ring, the anniversary band your husband gave you on your twentieth, your lifetime collection of necklaces, all your earrings, bracelets, and chains…years of sentiment, all down the drain. Not a nice scenario.
Should You Insure?
To insure? Or not to insure? That is the question. You’re betting you’re going to get ripped off at sometime in the future. The insurance company’s betting you won’t. And you’re the one putting up all the money.
Is that fair? Maybe it is…and maybe it isn’t. You have to decide. Value, sentiment, emotion, and your aversion to risk all play a part in answering that question.
What Existing Insurance Do You Already Have for Your Jewelry?
The first thing to do is to check your existing home owner’s or renter’s insurance policy and see what’s what. Most policies cover $1,000 to $15,000 of unscheduled personal property. Some policies go higher.
This means that if you loose $25,000 of jewelry—along with the TV, your three computers, your husband’s vintage pocket watch collection, and Mom’s good silverware—bummer. You’re sadly under-insured.
Let’s Talk About “Scheduled” Jewelry Insurance
“Scheduled” means the item is listed separately and not lumped together with everything else. Scheduled jewelry insurance can be attached to your existing policy or it can be completely separate.
Scheduled jewelry insurance normally costs around $1 to $2 per $100 worth of jewelry per year. This means to insure $20,000 worth of jewelry could cost you $200 to $400 per year.
If you’re like me, you’re already paying for fire, car, health, life, liability, and just about every other kind of insurance under the sun. Is it worth the peace of mind to add jewelry to the list? You have to decide.
Four Things You’ll Probably Need, to Insure Your Jewelry
1. The original receipt, if possible. I know, Great Grandma’s necklace didn’t get passed down with one. Nor did the engagement ring your first husband gave you. Don’t worry if you can’t come up with one. A good appraisal is worth more, anyway.
2. Certificates. Larger gemstones—especially diamonds—are often graded and certified by one or more industry accepted organizations. The two most recognized are the GIA and EGL.
3. An appraisal. Most insurance companies require appraisals, especially for more expensive items. Often, they won’t accept the one from the store from where you bought the piece. You’ll need to have a separate certified appraiser work up an appraisal/valuation for you. Do ask what they require before getting your jewelry appraised/valued.
4. Pictures. Usually, these are included in the appraisal. Nonetheless, photograph all your jewelry for your own records.
Ten Questions to Ask Your Agent About Insuring Your Jewelry
Note: I’m not an insurance agent. And have never been one—this lifetime or last! I can’t answer all your questions. And like everyone else, I don’t always read the “fine print.” You’ll have to do that yourselves. Here are a few questions to ask:
1. Should you have blanket coverage for everything or a schedule of coverage for more significant items?
2. What exactly is covered? Are items listed separately in the policy or lumped in with all your other baubles?
3. What kind of loss is covered: theft, the ring accidentally slipped off your finger at the beach? You were traveling in India and it was stolen? It got ground up in the garbage disposal? Other? Are there circumstances that aren’t covered? Make sure it’s all spelled out.
4. How will you be compensated if the ring is lost? Will the insurance company write you a check for the full value of the ring at the time you purchased it? Or at the time it was appraised three years later? Or its value today? Or will they pay the “replacement cost”? Whatever that would be.
5. If you lose an insured custom made ring, will they pay to have your jeweler replicate it or will they want you to go with their preferred jeweler who will provide a similar ring?
6. Ten years ago the cost of gold was $350 an ounce. Today it’s $1650. If your fifteen year old ring is stolen, will you be paid based on its original value or today’s?
7. Does the policy cover repair or partial loss? What if you just lost your center diamond but not the whole ring? What if your bracelet slipped off your wrist in the driveway and you ran it over with the car?
8. What do you need to make a claim? A police report? A picture? A letter from God?
9. Are there things you can do to lower the premium? Store your jewelry in a safe or a bank safe deposit box? Install a burglar alarm in your house? Other?
10. What if you move into a higher crime neighborhood?
If it’s in Writing it’s True
Free advice: Make sure everything is spelled out in writing. If it isn’t written, it isn’t true! Your old agent, Bob, may have “told” you you’d be compensated “in full” for your wedding ring if it was ever “lost.”
Unfortunately, Bob met his maker five years ago, and according to your new agent, Sally, your policy doesn’t cover this particular type of loss. She’s terribly sorry, but her “hands are tied.”
Six Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Jewelry
With or without coverage, there are things you can do to insure the safety of your jewelry:
1. Regularly check all your jewelry for wear and tear. This especially includes the prongs holding your gemstones and the clasps on all your chains and bracelets. Periodically have a professional jeweler check your more valuable and frequently worn pieces.
2. Make sure your rings fit properly. Loose rings slip off fingers. Men are especially susceptible to this malady. Read my blog on how to properly measure for your finger size for a ring.
3. Keep your jewelry locked up. A bank vault is safest but personal, home safes are good, too. They’re even better when bolted to the floor or in the wall. The easier it is for you to comfortably access your jewelry the more you’ll wear it. So don’t lock it away so well that it’s a pain to get to.
4. Leave your jewelry at home when traveling in various third world countries (and certain cities in the US!).
5. Take off your jewelry before going to the beach, weeding and planting bulbs, repairing your plumbing, working out at the gym, building snowmen, and countless other activities that don’t require “bling.”
6. Keep a file of all your jewelry. Include pictures, receipts, certificates, and appraisals. This might not insure its safety but it’d be nice to have as proof for the police that the recovered jewelry was in fact yours. It wouldn’t hurt to keep a copy of this information in a safe deposit box, as well.
To insure. Or not to insure. That is the question. The decision is yours.
Here are a couple of good resources for you about insuring jewelry:
JCRS and Information on gemstones, diamonds, what insurers need from you and details on insuring jewelry.
About.com’s Carly Wickell’s excellent article on insuring jewelry
Jewelry Insurance Specialists
These companies specialize in insuring jewelry:
Custom Designing Jeweler
Good comprehensive article, Calla! Lots of good points. I think if you have expensive pieces they should be insured individually. If you have pieces that are not expensive..Yurman etc…they don’t have to be and can be insured under the general, but pictures and a list are a must! Otherwise, you don’t know what you have or what was taken or what needs to be replaced!
Thank you for your well thought out advice on what to insure separately and what to include in your blanket coverage.
And photos are a brilliant idea!
OK, kind of a boring topic. But you know what? I read the whole thing and found it very informative.
I also realized I am under-insured. I’m that person who has the lump coverage. I wrote up all my valuables after reading this and had an unpleasant wake-up call.
Thanks to you I’m going to visit my insurer and fix my funky under coverage.
Thank you for this boring and super helpful post Calla.
It makes my day to know that my boring old post helped you!!
Your Personal Jeweler,
Calla, this is excellent advice with the points you spell out to ask your insurance agent. I think it is very helpful to make friends with your insurance agent, as he/she will spell out exactly what the implications are as for you and your jewelry under your chosen policy.
A blanket policy with separate itemized insured articles is always a safe bet and really saves you in the long run.
Thank you for this chock full of information jewelry insurance post.
I like what you said about making friends with your insurance agent. I myself like to blur the lines and I socialize with clients and providers. It’s been pretty great over the years.
I see that Calla Gold Jewelry does more than sell jewelry and custom design rings. This article is so important! Thank you so much for this important information about insuring your jewelry. I would not have known all of these questions to ask an insurance agent without you!
Admittedly it’s an easy area to overlook.
Seriously this should be more out there, like in a magazine!
Thank you for your suggestion. I just edited it with some more information and posted it on Squidoo:
It’s not a magazine, but it does get it more out there.
Thank you for getting into the jewelry industry advice mode.
I guess it is a bit sideways from what you usually write about, but I found your links helpful and question to ask when insuring your jewelry to be spot on.
I’m glad you liked the questions to ask your insurance agent when insuring your jewelry. I spent some time on that. It’s wonderful to get feedback and it guides me to new blogging topics.
Stretching my blogging wings,
This is kind of like a little e-book. Packed with good information. Thanks.
This is music to my ears.
I am an insurance agent and want to compliment you on a very good analysis of the various insurance coverages.
I obviously agree that people should have insurance and that they should contact an agent to get further information.
I would like to point out that your homeowners insurance does not cover the jewelry that is in your business as a jeweler and you should have separate coverage for that. And yes, I can provide that.
I have designed an insurance program specifically for designers and have many clients in the jewelry business.
Thank you so much for coming by and commenting on this post as an insurance agent. I went to your site and saw that indeed you do specialize in coverage for jewelry designer. For any jewelers reading this I’ll share the PDF page about Michael’s specialty:
“You were traveling in India and it was stolen?”
Things can get stolen in any country. Its sad that you have to single out only one country. Having lived in India for a very long time, I had nothing stolen.
The article is written with a poor taste and is biased.
I have not traveled in India, nor have I had jewelry stolen in India. I am confused by your comment.
I didn’t even know you could insure your jewelry. I have some expensive pieces that I need to look into getting insured then. Its good to know that if you lose or misplace your jewelry or it is stolen you can get it replaced at no cost to you.
I did research and write the insuring your jewelry blog, but I’m not sure that it will be completely without cost to replace your insured jewelry. I know it doesn’t work that way with cars.
Your Personal Jeweler,
I received a letter from State Farm yesterday stating that my diamond ring, which is insured separately, would become their property if a claim for replacement was made due to loss or damage. So why insure it if the insurance company would end up owning it in the event of a claim?
I have reached out to a State Farm representative and will give you more of an answer with their help. I’d like to really understand what they mean before I give an opinion.
Hi Vicky, Tammy Dobrotin, a State Farm agent in Santa Barbara had this to say in response to your question: “That clause applies if we have already paid for the piece. So, for example, if it is lost and we pay for the item, then it is found. The original piece is owed to State Farm since we already paid for a new item. Insurance is designed to put you back in the position you were in before the loss, not to better your position. It also applies if the piece isn’t repairable. We will pay for a new piece,… Read more »