You lose something of value and your first question is "is it covered?" Insurance policies provide a limited amount for such losses, but generally not enough to cover expensive items. To be fully reimbursed, what do you do?
When you purchase a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy, you assume all your personal property is fully protected in the event of a loss. That’s not necessarily true. Items of significant value, as well as any exclusive possessions, may only be partially covered.
What’s Does My Policy Cover?
Personal property is typically limited in your standard policy to a “blanket” amount and does not specify items covered. For example, the policy may include $1,000 of blanket coverage for personal property. If your home was robbed and your engagement ring, lap top, and TV were stolen, the max you would receive for all the items is $1,000. Hardly enough to replace one of the lost items!
How Do I Recover My Full Cost?
If you want to be fully reimbursed, your only option is to “schedule” each item on your insurance policy. Scheduling personal property requires the addition of a rider, floater, or endorsement to your homeowners policy. This extension to your standard policy will list individually each item that you want to separately insure. Remember, scheduled items will increase your premium. Therefore, be sure to list only those items that justify the additional cost for the policy.
Scheduled items also receive broader coverage. A standard homeowners policy only covers a loss in the event of named perils such as fire, lightening, theft, explosion and vandalism. What if your engagement ring is lost in the ocean while on vacation? The standard policy would not reimburse you, but a rider would.
Another plus: Scheduled property is not subject to the policy’s deductible. If your lost engagement ring was scheduled for the appraised value of $15,000, you would receive the full $15,000 from the insurance company. No deductible!
What to Schedule?
Any property valued higher than the personal property limit listed within your policy is a candidate for scheduling. Jewelry, furs, collections, antiques, and art are among the more commonly scheduled items. In addition, consider your electronics, cameras, sporting equipment and fine tableware, e.g., silverware, china, and crystal.
To schedule valuable possessions the insurance company will require a receipt for each item you wish to insure. If you don’t have a receipt, you’ll need to supply a qualified appraisal.
Be sure to keep your appraisals updated on all your items, but especially antiques and memorabilia, because their value tends to fluctuate. If you have too much coverage, you’ll end up paying unnecessary premiums. If you don’t have enough coverage your item will be inadequately protected in case of a loss.
After you’ve gathered your receipts and/or had any valuables appraised, contact your insurance agent to add the personal property rider to your policy.
It’s important to fully understand the terms within any insurance policy. If you have items of value you, it’s important they are adequately insured. The process of scheduling valuable personal property can be tedious, but knowing you can replace them without breaking the bank sounds pretty good!
Abby VanDerHeyden, CFP, is a Financial Planner with Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc.