Will your insurance protect your most valuable items? You need to make sure your policy can cover it, either by adding your valuable possessions to your existing policy, or buying specific jewellery cover.
This isn’t just something for the super-rich. Many of us have seemingly priceless items such as family heirlooms, that should they go missing would upset us. What would happen if your inherited antiques were stolen, or your designer handbag and shoe collection was damaged by a flood?
Getting the right cover
We purchase contents insurance to protect our belongings and provide funds to replace them should something go wrong.
However, policies vary widely, so make sure to get one that offers an adequate level of cover for your items. In particular, think about the more valuable things, otherwise you could end up out of pocket when you try to claim.
Most standard contents insurance will cover your belongings up to a specified limit, for example £40,000. In this case you could claim a maximum of £40,000 if for example, all your stuff was destroyed in a fire or stolen.
But within this is a lesser-known clause related to the most you can claim back for any individual possession – the ‘single item limit’.
What is a single item limit?
You’ll find a single item limit clause within most home insurance policies, and it refers to the maximum you are allowed to cover one item (such as a ring or watch) should you need to claim.
The limit is normally around £1500 to £2500, depending on the insurer. So say your home insurance policy has an overall cover amount of £40,000 but a single item limit of £2,000, whilst you could still make a claim of up to £40,000, the most you can claim for any one item would still be £2,000.
If your diamond ring is worth £2,500, the insurer would only pay out up to £2,000. But, there are ways of protecting your more valuable items.
Adding jewellery to your home insurance
Precious items such as engagement rings or wedding rings are often among the most valuable pieces of jewellery in a collection, meaning they will probably bring the single item limit into play.
If a ring – or luxury watch, or diamond necklace, or any other item – is worth more than the limit then it will need to be added separately to the policy. You can do this by mentioning it separately when you get a home insurance quote on our site, or by asking your insurer about it over the phone.
Get a correct valuation before you insure
The same applies expensive watches as they can often be worth more now than when you bought them. If you have had these items for many years, it’s worth getting them valued before taking out a policy as the value of precious metals and gems has increased over the years.
If you get them valued, you can be assured you will be insuring them for the correct amount, and won’t be disappointed if you have to make a claim later.
As with rings and other jewellery, have the items valued before taking out a policy and when you do store the certificates in a safe place. It is recommended that you have expensive jewellery and watches appraised every two years, by a jeweller accredited by the National Association of Goldsmiths.
Antiques, art and other collectibles also vary in value, according to market and economic conditions, so if you have a collection, you should have it re-evaluated every few years just to be sure.
An outdated valuation can lead to disappointment if you have to lodge a claim. For example, if your engagement ring was last valued 10 years ago at £1,000, it could now be worth £2,000, but the insurer will stick to the original valuation if you haven’t told them otherwise.
The insurer could also quibble the claim if there is no up-to-date, accredited valuation document.
Specialist cover for jewellery collections
If you own a large collection of expensive jewellery, then you might need to consider paying extra for a policy with a higher overall contents value AND higher single item limits.
Or alternatively, get separate engagement ring insurance through a specialist insurer – you can find them via a broker or by searching online.
There are a number of specialists who offer ring or jewellery insurance where you can insure one or more items. The item limits are typically much higher if you take out specialist cover, and some companies don’t have a limit on single items at all,
So if you got insurance to cover £50,000, for example, then the cover could include the whole collection or just one (very expensive) ring.
These separate policies should cover the ring whether at home or abroad, though there may be some conditions attached to worldwide cover, and some won’t cover it abroad at all. For instance, the insurer might insist it is kept in a locked safe, or that you must wear it at all times.
Always check that your ring is insured against accidental loss or damage. You would then be able to make a claim if you accidentally dropped the ring down the plug hole or stepped on it and broke the setting.
And finally, make sure the policy lets you choose your own jeweller if a ring is lost, damaged or stolen. Some policies will only give vouchers for high street jewellers, which are worthless if your ring is custom-made. Whatever the item, take a photograph of it to assist with the claim.
If you have an expensive watch, like a Cartier, Rolex or Omega, it’s worth considering getting it insured so you’re not left out of pocket if it is stolen, lost or needs repairs.
Luxury watches are easily spotted as the real thing, and could make you a target for criminals.
On top, being so intricate and with many moving parts, watches can need costly repairs. It is worth looking into a watch winder for a luxury watch, as they keep the lubricating oil within the mechanism working well, which in turn will keep down any repair bills.
As with rings, depending on the value of the watch, you might be able insure on the home contents policy. But an expensive item will again be listed separately, either when you take out cover or when you speak to an insurance provider.
Or you could get separate watch insurance from a specialist insurer, but you’ll need to contact a broker or search the internet for that.
Personal possessions cover
If you want to insure your stuff outside of the home, ensure your contents policy includes ‘personal possessions’ cover.
This is different to splitting out expensive items that exceed the single-item limit, as it applies to lower value items which can include cameras, phones and designer fashion.
If you take an expensive camera to a wedding and it is damaged beyond repair, or if you are mugged in the street after a night out, you can then claim the items back on the contents insurance. Again, you should always check that the limits on the policy are adequate.
How to protect your possessions
- Always tell your insurer about any items of particular value. Otherwise you could end up with an insurance shortfall, or even invalidate the policy.
- Keep receipts for valuable items as proof of the purchase price.
- Make sure valuations are up-to-date – and store the certificates in a safe place. Expensive jewellery should be valued every two years by a jeweller accredited by the National Association of Goldsmiths.
- Take photographs of your valuable items as they can help insurers to process your claim more easily.
- Keep valuables in a safe or lockable cabinet when not in use to deter thieves. This does not mean hiding them under the bed as this is one of the first places a burglar will look.
- Don't leave or display valuables where they can be seen by opportunist thieves.