Sometime, in the dead of night, a band of professional thieves breaks into a chateau on Lake Como. Most of the belongings are left undisturbed, save one: the Heart of Venus, a priceless diamond necklace.
“It’s just devastating!” Duchess Von Terrapin says to the Europol authorities gathered in the grand foyer. “Devastating, I tell you! You simply must retrieve that necklace!”
“My darling,” her husband, Duke Von Terrapin, soothes. “It’s not the end of the world!”
“Oh, you’re right, my love,” the Duchess replies. “At least it’s insured!”
“Uh…” The Duke stammers, nervously fingering his moustache. “Yeah...About that...”
We’ve all been there.
Point is, this is how a lot of us think of jewelry insurance: something lifted from the movies, reserved for particular pieces of note, or for particularly fabulous collections. But if you have a piece you love, and it has substantial monetary or sentimental value, get it insured. It can save a whole lot of heartache, and it’s easier than you think.
Chances are, if you’ve got homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, you might be covered against theft to a certain extent. Most policies, however, only cover $10,000 or $15,000 worth of loss, however, which can add up if, say, your computers, silverware, etc. were stolen, too. If you’ve got some hefty pieces of jewelry thrown into the mix, you’re going to find yourself dreadfully underinsured.
So first, check what your current plan includes. If you’re on top of your insurance game, you probably have everything taken care of by one carrier: it makes things so much easier, saves cash, and you already know whom to consult, and how to beef up your policy to protect your most valuable items.
While you can get a plan that covers all of your jewelry, those can get a little clunky and pricy, and if you’re constantly acquiring new pieces, you’ll be spending a lot of time on the phone with your insurer. That’s where “scheduled” insurance comes in. Items like this (usually ones that are valued at more than $10,000 all by themselves) are listed separately among your valuables, and the plan covers only that one item. Insurance like this will generally cost $2 per $100 of value, per year—a bit more cost-effective than blanket coverage.
Organize Your Information
Before talking to your insurer, make sure to have your paperwork in order. For pieces that are worth insuring, most insurers will require a professional appraisal, certificates (for gems, mainly), and some hard photos. While it’s not always possible (especially for grandma’s heirloom), keeping your receipts is a habit to start ASAP.
Ask All of the Questions
Get your facts straight. What kind of loss is covered? Theft? Carelessness? Damage? Meteor strike? Sharknado? How will you be compensated? Will the provider allow a one-of-a-kind piece to be replicated by a jeweler of your choice, or will they insist on their own “preferred jeweler?” Will you be compensated for the value of gold at a locked-in rate, or will the compensation reflect the current price? Can you travel abroad with a piece (sometimes not; mostly, your insurer should be notified, just like your credit card company). Get a little paranoid, and get it in writing (text, or it didn’t happen).
This is also a good reason to go with your long-time insurer—we all hear horror stories about bogus coverage, and a trusted insurer is one who's less likely to... imaginatively reinterpret the truth.
So Now, You’ve Got Insurance
Awesome. You have a policy you’re comfortable with. But, an ounce of prevention, and all that—if you’ve gone through the trouble of insuring an item, back it up. Do you have a burglar alarm in your home? Are your precious items kept in a safe? Where is the safe located? Do you have copies of photographs, appraisals, and receipts kept in a separate location?
This is all pretty important. Certain ultra-high-end pieces are only allowed to be taken out of a safe so many times during the course of a year, and it’s possible that your insurer won’t cover the loss or damage if you don’t play the game. In other words, if you get back home late at night, and plop your necklace on the nightstand, your insurer won’t like it very much.
Following the rules like this can make it easier to file a claim (and get compensated) if something does happen. Plus, if something is stolen, it could help the police recover it that much more quickly. And, you’ll have a better chance of keeping your premiums from being bumped if you show some caution, up front.
Did We Mention Pictures?
We did. But they’re really, really important. Get your piece photographed professionally, close-up, from every angle, leaving no hallmark undocumented. Get hard copies, backups on your hard drive, give copies to your insurer, heck—even keeping a separate folder on your phone can make life easier, just in case you ever need it.
And at the very least, you won’t end up like Duchess Von Terrapin.