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.
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:
Jewelry Insurance Specialists
These companies specialize in insuring jewelry:
Custom Designing Jeweler