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Buyin’ large: Your new stuff may need some new insurance

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Home insurance is your saving grace in the face of (some) disasters and (most) theft. It helps you get your life back together after calamity. It’s valuable, and that’s why you pay for it. You know what else you pay for? Your stuff. And as time goes on, we all tend to accumulate more stuff (not looking at you, Tiny Housers/#vanlifers)We’re here to help you determine when it’s time to increase your home insurance, and how you can do that.

But first, let’s take a moment to define some very important terms.

Policy: Pretty sure you know this one. Your home insurance policy covers your house as it was set up when you moved in–its features, hazards, and your belongings. We’re assuming you’ve already got this in place, if you’re reading an article about when to add to it.

Personal Property Insurance: Not just a clever name, this is exactly what it sounds like: coverage for the things you own, up to their coverage limits (see below)! Speaking of which, it’s worth looking into whether you have replacement cost value or actual cash value coverage, and which is right for you.

Rider: Also called an endorsement or a floater, a rider is an attachment to your policy that edits the original coverage. This could mean an exclusion or (more likely for our purposes here) additional coverage. This whole article could be summed up as “TL;DR: ask your provider about a rider for big purchases.” Anyway, you’ll want to make sure your rider is strong, but not Rider Strong.

Limits: Figuring out when you’ll need a rider depends on a few factors, but you’ll want to start with knowing special coverage limits. There are categories of belongings that have lower limits than overall personal property limits, and we’ve got that list of specific insurance limits for you here. This means your insurance company will only reimburse you up to these (pretty low) amounts in these categories. These low coverage limits are designed to encourage you to seek out additional coverage where you need it. Basically everything in this article is on this list. Your personal property coverage is for anything not on this list.

Exclusivity: Ok, this isn’t really an insurance term. We just want to remind you that your current home insurance provider might not offer the types of insurance you need to cover large purchases, and that’s okay! You don’t have to switch companies completely to get special riders from additional providers.

Now, let’s talk about what kind of additional coverage you may need for all of your recent purchases.

Collections

If you have collectible miscellany you think may be worth more than the limits in your policy (Precious Moments figurines? Stamp proof sheets? Vintage Betty Boop lunchboxes?), you may be eligible for a rider for it. But if it’s not obviously valuable, your basic policy won’t need to increase to cover additions to collections like these, because they’re more like normal-seeming stuff in the eyes of insurance. This gets us into our second TL;DR of this article: Find a specialist. If you have rare or vintage items, you may be able to find a specialized insurance provider to cover those things specifically.

Coin collections are worth mentioning separately here. Any cash or coins are only coverable for their cash values, up to $200. Your 19th century silver dollar may be worth $100 or so, but your home insurance company will only reimburse you for the face value of it ($1!). So if you have a drawer full of those, you know what to do: Get them appraised, get a rider, get them covered.

Art and music

Ooooh you fancy, buyin’ that fancy painting at that fancy gallery. Any fine art you acquire, you’re gonna want it covered. And if it was a gift, you still have to buy that insurance! New (and new-to-you) art should be easy to cover with a rider, but most companies will require that it is appraised, and that appraisal is also your responsibility. (So really, if you’re thinking of collecting art, budget in the insurance coverage and the appraisal you’ll need for it!) Again, your standard policy may cover art/decor, but only up to a point. This is a great job for a provider that specializes in art insurance!

Musical Instruments are in the same category as art. If you need a rider for that piano, get a rider! Your standard homeowner’s policy will only cover up to a certain amount, no matter how fancy a piano you have.

Jewelry

Diamonds are an insurer’s best friend. Get extra coverage as soon as additional jewels enter your home, because the coverage limit on this category is only $1,500. This is a no-brainer, because unlike your art, your walk-in smart fridge, or your first edition copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” signed in blood by J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe, your jewelry is probably going to walk out the door of your house. Hopefully on your body or that of a loved one, but if it falls off or is stolen out there in the world, you’ll be covered. Like art, your fine jewelry will need to be appraised before providers will cover it.

Firearms

Firearms and their accoutrements are covered up to a $2,500 limit in most home insurance policies. If you have a large collection (or antiques), you may want to increase coverage for both property and liability. If you absolutely have to display your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather’s Revolutionary War rifle over the fireplace, there’s a rider for that.

Attractive nuisances

The best insurance term. No, not your new significant other. Treehouses, ziplines, trampolines, pools, decorative ponds, swing sets, cars on cinder blocks, miscellaneous construction equipment from that contracter who ghosted you after getting halfway through your mudroom reno… if it’s an attractive thing for a kid to approach and play on, it’s a nuisance, as far as insurance is considered. Get that covered! If it’s renovation-related, be sure to up your coverage before you get started, if you know there’ll be materials around that might attract curious kids. And always build water features and pools to code–fence ‘em in! This may all be part of additional builder’s risk insurance you’ll be purchasing for your renovation, just do your homework.

Adult toys

GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER. We mean your motorcycle, your Sea-Doo, your snowmobile, your cigarette boat, your blimp. Watercraft and trailers stored on your property are only covered up to $1,500 (thanks, coverage limits!) by your home insurance, and your toys are almost definitely worth more than this. So they need their own coverage! Don’t go filling up that garage/airspace with these toys and not insuring them separately, y’hear? Oh, and by the way, you do need insurance for even the Tiniest House and #vanlife van. 

The bottom line: know your limits, in life and in insurance, and ask your provider about a rider for anything new you acquire. If they don’t cover it, find a specialist that does. 

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