Jewelry and Other Expensive Gifts May Only Have Minimal Coverage Under Standard Homeowners Insurance Policies, Warns The I.I.I. -- The I.I.I. Offers Tips to Properly Insure Valuables

NEW YORK, December 23, 2003 - Jewelry sales more than double in December than any other month, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Expensive holiday gifts are a good reason to review insurance coverage as we move into 2004, advises the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies include coverage for personal items such as jewelry. However, many policies limit the dollar amount for theft of valuable personal possessions such as jewelry, furs, and precious stones from $1,000 to $2,000 total.

"To properly insure jewelry and other expensive items, consider purchasing additional coverage through a floater or an endorsement," says Jeanne M. Salvatore, the I.I.I.'s vice president of Consumer Affairs. "In most cases, you would also be covered for what insurance companies term ?mysterious disappearance.' This means that if your ring falls off your finger or is lost, you would be financially protected."

Prices for floaters and endorsements will vary depending on the type of jewelry, the insurance company you choose, where you live and where the item will be kept. With floaters and endorsements, there are no deductibles and frequently you will get the option of having the insurance company replace the item for you, according to Salvatore.

To make sure your jewelry or other expensive gift is adequately protected, the I.I.I. suggests:

  • Contact your insurance professional immediately
    Let your agent or company representative know that you are now in possession of jewelry or other expensive items. Find out how much coverage you have under your home or renters insurance policy and if additional insurance is needed.
  • Have the item appraised
    It's important that expensive items are appraised properly. If you purchase a floater or endorsement, your premium will be based on this value, as will any subsequent claim. If buying this coverage for the first time, have heirlooms and other expensive items that were purchased several years ago appraised as well. Your insurer can recommend a reputable appraiser if necessary. Expensive items go up or go down in value. Talk to your insurance professional about how to make sure the dollar amount of your floater or endorsement reflects these changes.
  • Keep a copy of the store receipt and add it to your home inventory
    You will need to forward a copy of the receipt to your insurer so that the company knows the current retail value of the item. Keep a copy for yourself and update your home inventory. Get into the habit of keeping a visual record of all of your personal possessions. This helps to document your loss and speed up the claims process, particularly for claims involving antique and unusual pieces of jewelry.
  • Store valuables in a secure location
    Protect your jewelry by storing it in a secure location in your home. If you don't wear the item regularly or are saving it for a child, consider keeping it in a safe deposit box. You may save money on the cost of insuring it, as some companies offer "in vault" coverage. If you want to wear the jewelry for a special occasion, many insurers will offer the option of purchasing additional coverage for the time it is out of the bank. You do, of course, have to notify your insurer in advance.

"There is no way to put a dollar value on sentiment," cautions Ms. Salvatore. "In these cases, it's important to know what you have, what it's worth and have proper insurance coverage."

For more information regarding insurance access the I.I.I.'s Web site at www.insurance.info .

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