Insuring your jewellery can help if you lose your jewellery. You may be able to choose your own repairer and agreed value.
- Portable contents insurance. This exists as part of your normal contents insurance policy. Portable contents insurance will cover you for loss, theft and damage of jewellery items both within and beyond the home. There is generally a price limit on what a standard policy will pay, so you may need to extend your policy to fully cover your collection. On top of that, it will also cover you for a bunch of other contents, so if you need protection for a laptop or TV, that will also be covered.
- Specialised jewellery insurance. Option number two is a cover intended specifically to cover your jewellery against loss, theft and damage. Specialised jewellery insurance is available from providers of this specific service. It generally offers a higher level of cover, but also tends to be more expensive.
Let’s start with the facts: an individual piece of jewellery can carry a hefty price tag (if the “Heart of the Ocean” from Titanic was real, it would be estimated to be worth a cool $300 million). It makes sense that a collection of jewellery can add up to a sum ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Beyond that, it’s no secret that jewellery has an emotional significance as well as a financial one. It represents connections to loved ones, relationships and important life events. If you were to lose your engagement ring, would you have enough cash lying around to buy it again?
Even if you feel confident that your home is a safe haven for your jewellery, this not a guarantee. In 2017, there were 225,900 burglaries in Australia, which is roughly 1 every 3 minutes. Beyond this, there are the inevitable situations beyond your control, like loss or damage, that make the importance of jewellery insurance pretty clear.
If you already have home and contents insurance, all you need to do is upgrade your cover and add portable contents insurance (sometimes known as personal effects cover) to insure jewellery and watches when you are outside the home.
With basic portable contents insurance, you aren’t required to describe your items or disclose their value. However, the limits on these “unspecified” portable effects policies tend to be pretty low and won’t necessarily cover the full worth of the items you need to replace. As an example, let’s say you’ve got cover with a $7,000 claim limit and need to replace a necklace worth $4,000, but there’s a $1,500 limit on the individual value you are able to obtain for each item. In this case, you wouldn’t be covered for the full worth of the item.
Should this be the case, you might opt instead for “specified” portable effects insurance. This gives specialised quotes based on the value of individual pieces of jewellery. These are generally fairly flexible and will often go as high as needed. For valuable items that you wear outside the home, this means you’ll be covered for:
- Accidental loss
- Accidental damage
- Repair and/or replacement
- Incidents within or beyond the home
In practical terms, this means that if your jewellery is stolen from your home, lost while bushwalking or damaged while working, you’ll be covered for its value.
Of course! Remember, your contents policy covers jewellery within the home. If you would like cover that extends to the day-to-day outside the home, you will need to upgrade to portable contents. Whether or not you choose this is up to you. Depending on the value of your individual pieces and jewellery collection overall, you might find that you will actually be better off enlisting the cover of a specialist jewellery insurer.
Drawbacks of insuring your jewellery with portable contents insurance:
- You won’t get to choose your repairer. Portable contents policies generally retain the right to choose the jeweller you visit, whereas specialist insurers often let you choose.
- They might lack expertise. The items covered under “home and contents” are broad, so the insurers will not be as knowledgeable about jewellery specifically. A specialist insurer is more likely to source jewellery items that are hard to find and could potentially increase your payment if the market value has increased.
Portable contents insurance can be a helpful addition to your cover, but it’s highly dependent on your personal situation. You might find that it’s not the best fit and you should shop around for different specialist services if this is the case. You can also take out separate policies on individual items (for example, engagement rings) if they are of particular value. Just make sure you don’t accidentally double up!
To make sure you end up with the right cover, remember these tips:
- Read the fine print! If your cover is coming from your contents insurance, make sure you know what your per-item limits and total cover limits are. Will these cover your jewellery collection in full? Will they miss out important items?
- Consider specific cover. If your standard cover won’t cut it, you will need to apply for additional specified items cover. This means you can specify items of particular value to cover.
- Find out how to claim. Insurers vary in the evidence and documentation needed to support your claim and you may be required to update these documents periodically. These documents can include purchase receipts, photographs and professional valuations.
- Get it valued. Professional appraisals are vital in determining your insurance needs. Some pieces of jewellery can appreciate in value over time and you don’t want to under-insure them. Equally, you might be paying more than is needed on another item. Tell the valuer you’re getting the item appraised for insurance reasons and they will be able to tell you how much it’s worth.
Don’t settle for thinking that insurance equals an exact replacement guarantee. To make sure you don’t have any nasty shocks, remember that you need to be pretty clear on a few possible pitfalls.
- Know your options when it comes to jewellery value. While your grandmother’s necklace might have been valued at $6,000, this won’t help you if your insurer limit is only $600.
- Know your options when it comes to jewellers. Some insurers will have specific partner jewellers that you will be obliged to use, so if you need the craftsmanship of one jeweller in particular, make sure your policy will enable this. Otherwise, you may find yourself accepting a cash settlement of less than you expect, or accepting a jeweller chosen by your insurance company.
- Know your exclusions. Don’t overlook the simple stuff. General wear and tear isn’t covered by insurers, so don’t find yourself disappointed when you try and fix an opal that’s as scratched as a record in the eighties.
Tips and tricks for protecting your jewellery
- Look at all your insurance options. If your jewellery is not a “collection” so much as “one very treasured heirloom” then you might find that specialist insurance is a better fit. Equally, if you want broader cover for a few different items, then perhaps general jewellery cover is the way to go. Regardless, do your research to find the best fit.
- Get it valued. Don’t lose the receipt! Jewellery valuations are vital (and not the ones given by friends who tell you how lovely it is) as they prove the value if you ever need to make a claim. Valuations also make sure you don’t over- or under-insure your jewellery. If it increases in value, you want your insurer to know about it!
- Balance the budget. Insurance costs aren’t just determined by the cost of the piece. Where you live, local theft rates and the value of the jewellery are all factors that influence insurance costs.
- Ask the tricky questions. Be as specific as you can and avoid unpleasant surprises. Ask who will be repairing it, what evidence you’ll need to provide and how regularly it needs to be valued. Question whether it’s portable or home-only and whether it’s covered if you aren’t in the country. If not, you might need jewellery insurance for travellers . Try and cover all the possible options before you commit.