Getting the Family Jewels Insured ... Is It Worth It?

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By Betsy Vereckey, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Do you have expensive jewelry lying around at home that you worry could be stolen? Maybe you're concerned about losing it?

If so, you probably should consider extra insurance because your homeowner or rental policy doesn't likely cover the entire cost of replacing your most valuable items.

Here's what to consider:

CHECK YOUR POLICY

Find out how much jewelry your homeowner's or renter's policy includes and what circumstances are covered.
While it depends on the individual company, most policies cover stolen jewelry, but just $1,000 to $2,000 worth, says Jeanne M. Salvatore, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute — a trade group for insurance companies.
"There will be some coverage, but it will be limited," she says.

Homeowner's insurance generally won't cover your misplacing an item, says Salvatore.

CONSIDER A FLOATER

If you have items worth more than you're covered for, consider buying an additional policy using a "floater" or "rider" for their replacement cost, which will also cover lost jewelry. For floaters, insurers typically charge a percentage of an item's value and don't levy a deductible.

To get an idea of a floater's cost, at State Farm Insurance, covering an item worth $10,000 in New York City would run about $175 per year, says Kip Diggs, a spokesman for State Farm. In a different city or state, it might cost half that, he says.

INSURE THE ITEMS YOU WEAR

Many people think they don't need extra jewelry insurance until they get engaged and own a valuable ring, says Salvatore. But she advises insuring any items you wear regularly because wearing them increases the chance of losing them. She also recommends covering anything worth more than $1,000 and anything irreplaceable or of sentimental value.

APPRAISE EVERYTHING

Before taking out an additional policy, have your jewelry appraised so you insure it for the right amount. The appraisal should include an in-depth description of the article with photographs.

Keep in mind that the appraisal doesn't guarantee the value will remain the same in coming years, says Roger Sevigny, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. So it's good to have jewelry appraised every several years, especially given inflation and fluctuating prices for gold, silver and diamonds.

You can find jewelry appraisers in your area on the American Gem Society's Web site, americangemsociety.org. You also can get referral from the American Society of Appraisers or take your pieces to a jewelry store you trust, says Celia Santana of Personal Risk Management Solutions, a New York-based insurance and financial advisory firm.

DOCUMENT AND GUARD YOUR ASSETS

Document everything you have insured and hold onto the receipts for both your jewelry and your appraisals, then make photocopies of all those papers and keep them someplace separate.

As for the valuables themselves, always store jewelry in a safe location when you aren't wearing it. And, if you have a burglar alarm, change the code frequently.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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