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Insuring Your Valuable Collectibles

Jan 6, 2008
The collectibles markets are full of passionate people. These aren't people who have 'pack rat fever' and save items just to have them, but people who decide to enter a specific collectibles market because it is a rewarding and fun experience for them. And it seems people will collect just about anything including: teddy bears, coins, stamps, advertising memorabilia, books, comic books, sports memorabilia, vinyl records......why the list seems endless. But they all have one thing in common, a passion for their hobby and their specific collectible.

But what if something unforeseen happens, a fire or some other catastrophe? A unique insurance agency called Collectibles Insurance Services; LLC is here to offer peace of mind and, most importantly, insurance for their collectibles.

I spoke with Dan Walker and Debbie Spilman of Collectibles Insurance Services, LLC, about collecting and why it is important to have insurance on your treasured collectibles.

"Some may think that they're homeowners insurance policy covers their collectibles, but in most cases your homeowners policy is designed to cover personal property and is not nearly enough to protect your treasured collectibles," said Dan. "They may limit the collection to a percentage of the total value of your home, limit the amount that they will pay for theft of valuable items like silver, crystal, guns, stamps and paper documents or be based on actual cash value rather than the collectible or replacement value."

Collectibles Insurance Services (www.collectinsure.com) differs from the average homeowners' insurance policy, in that, insuring collectibles is all they do. The service can insure a collection of stamps, advertising memorabilia, sports cards, vinyl records, antique tools, vintage clothing, trains, toys, weapons (guns, knives swords), entertainment memorabilia and much more (see the website for a complete list and exclusions of what they insure).

"Normal homeowners policies don't generally deal with collectibles, we write policies specifically for a person's collectibles, whether it is a rare book collection, stamps, coins, sports cards, vinyl records and the many other collectibles that we deal with every day," explained Dan.

Valuation of a collection is subjective and estimating what a certain collection is worth depends on many variables and researching different avenues.

"We strongly encourage prospects from overvaluing their collections. We cannot insure 'emotional worth', but can insure a varying array of collectibles. We ask that people have a paper trail, save receipts for what they may have paid for items; documentation is very helpful, take video of the collection or pictures. Validation is an important element. Don't over insure and if necessary get a second opinion," detailed Debbie.

How does one go about ascertaining the value of a collection or their collectibles?

"Price guides are great, but they are just one of the tools used when trying to gauge a value of a collection," explained Dan. "Replacement value would be what a knowledgeable buyer would pay a knowledgeable seller for the items, it is an agreed upon price between two knowledgeable individuals in a sales transaction. You must price your collectibles realistically for insurance purposes."

"The valuation process could also be aided by a professional appraisal (although that is not always necessary), professional consensus, price guide values, what the collectibles may be selling for on the market at the specific time, our own resources and expertise and because no two collections are the same, all these factors are available in helping people determine what the value is. We also have a number of resources on file and references listed on the website including valuation aides, inventory aides and dealers to help people along so they can put a figure on the collections worth in which to write a policy," said Dan.

What kind of resources that are used in the valuation process depends on the items in the collection, as Debbie explains:

"We provide reference to many entities in the process including obtaining information from the Kovels.com, American Stamp Dealers Association, Price Miner, Antique Trader, Beckett.com, CBGXtra.com (for comic book collections), collect.com, Goldmine publications, Military Trader, trains.com and a number of other resources, depending on the genre of the collectible."

I inquired about insurance when you are moving the items, from whether down the street or across the country; doesn't the moving company provide insurance for that?

"Submitting a claim to them is much more difficult to do, as the moving companies would require much more documentation to validate a claim if there were breakage or something else were to happen," explained Debbie. "Again, validating just how much the collectibles are worth is a key element in settling a claim."

A myth with regard to collectibles insurance is that every item in the collection must be itemized and professionally appraised.

"No appraisals are necessary. You estimate the value of your collection and determine the amount of insurance, we need a ballpark figure," detailed Dan. "Although an inventory is not always required at the time of application to purchase insurance, Collectibles Insurance Services strongly recommends its customers maintain an inventory to streamline, provide proof, and expedite claims in the event of a loss."

Another myth regarding insuring collectibles is that the cost would be more than people could reasonably afford.

"A collectibles policy is typically less costly than scheduling items on your homeowners insurance," said Dan. "The price of insurance should not deter a person from insuring their collections, the items are priceless to the hobbyist or collector and you will find our rates are not overbearing and are cost-efficient. We cover everything from autographs to Zippos or something in between. And Collectibles Insurance Services' carriers are A rated and above."

It is reassuring to know that purchasing insurance for your collection is not as difficult as one might think it to be. The process is not such a daunting task as it seems and it is also reassuring to know that there are professionals specifically trained in this field and a company that specializes in just this type of insurance.
About the Author
Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates http://www.collectingvinylrecords.com, where you can pick up a copy of his ebook called "The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting." Contact Robert at robert@collectingvinylrecords.com
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