Jewelry insurance comes in many forms and varieties and only an insurance agent can provide accurate and specific advice. However, it helps to know enough about jewelry insurance to ask your agent the right questions and to be aware of how the process works. The time to ask your insurance agent the questions is before you insure an item, not when you need to file a claim. Read the fine print in your insurance contract to be sure it provides the coverage you expect.
Understanding jewelry insurance begins with recognizing the difference between scheduled and unscheduled property.
Unscheduled property (jewelry not specifically listed) is typically included in basic homeowner or renter’s policies under blanket coverage. There is a usually a deductible (typically $500) and a maximum amount of coverage (typically $1500) although these amounts can vary with the specific policy. This type of coverage does not require an appraisal but sales receipts, written descriptions or photos are beneficial in proving the items existed and estimating their replacement value.
Scheduled property (jewelry specifically listed) is included in a floater, rider or endorsement to homeowner or renter’s policies. Jewelry insurance is also available with a separate policy, from a company specializing in jewelry insurance. For scheduled property, the insurance appraisal is vital because it describes the jewelry item and provides the “insured value” that is used in determining the premium you will pay to insure the item each year. Most scheduled property policies do not have an automatic appreciation adjustment as is common for the house and other unscheduled property. Therefore, even if it might cost 50% more to replace an item in five years, the “insured value” is still only that stated in the appraisal.
If you file an insurance claim, the settlement process and amount paid will depend on the policy and in particular, if the policy allows replacement or agreed value settlement. For agreed value policies, the settlement amount is stated in the policy whereas replacement value allows the insurance company to replace your jewelry or make a cash settlement based on the insurance company’s cost to replace your item. The insurance company’s liability ceiling is set at the “insured value” on the appraisal.
Do you have enough jewelry insurance? The answer depends on what kind of policy you have, the “insured value” is on the appraisal, the settlement procedure is for your particular policy, and the accuracy of the information on your appraisal. If you have a jewelry item valued at more than the $1500, you should definitely consider scheduled as opposed to unscheduled coverage.
The critical issue for scheduled property coverage is the how accurate is the information on the appraisal.
1) If the information on the appraisal is vague and general, the insurance company can replace the item with an item that satisfies the description but perhaps is not the quality and true value of the lost item. Be sure your jewelry appraisal has a detailed and accurate description of the jewelry item.
2) If the appraisal value is artificially high, the insurance company can replace the item at their cost even though the client paid premiums for years on a value twice as much. This is often the case for purchases from a jewelry store with prices double other retailers and the store provides an insurance appraisal even higher than the purchase price. You do not need an appraised value more than 150% of the price you would pay at low priced online retailer.
3) If the appraisal value is too low, the insurance company can make cash settlement that might not cover the current replacement cost of the item. This could be the case for items purchased three or four years ago from a low price online retailer and the appraised value was at or below the purchase price. With diamond prices increasing about 10% a year recently, it does not take long for appraisal values to be out of date if too close to online retail purchase prices. Be sure to have your jewelry insurance appraisal updated every four or five years so you do not end up underinsured.