Protecting the Finer Things in Life: Valuable Personal Property Insurance

Protecting the Finer Things in Life: Valuable Personal Property Insurance

John Hancock • Reader Submitted • June 14, 2010

Protecting the Finer Things in Life: Valuable Personal Property Insurance

By Cara Newman

Courtesy of USAA

We all appreciate the finer things in life. Whether it is your diamond wedding ring, a fabulous fur coat, a collection of paintings, or even stamps, these things which are the most valuable, are often the most vulnerable. Unfortunately, the things that you love the most are the same things frequently targeted by thieves, and the most expensive to replace. Luckily, there is a way to help ensure that your prized possessions are covered from theft, disappearance or damage: Personal Article Floaters is also known as Valuable Personal Property (VPP) insurance depending on the provider.

You may already have homeowners or renters insurance; in fact, most insurance companies which offer VPP insurance require that you carry one of these policies. However, Valuable Personal Property insurance is not merely an extension of what you already have, it’s much more, explains Mark Ginther, assistant vice president, at USAA for underwriting policy, the financial services provider whose core membership is comprised primarily of military members and their families .

Most homeowners insurance, Ginther says, doesn’t cover every type of loss. For example, you get a flat tire and remove your wedding ring to wash your hands in a gas station bathroom. You turn around for a moment, but when you look back, your ring is gone. Homeowners insurance wouldn’t cover this, but with VPP coverage, in many cases you will be able to replace the ring. A VPP policy, he says, provides much broader coverage than a homeowners or renters policy.

What if an expensive piece of artwork is taken right off your bedroom wall? Most homeowner policies have coverage limits, meaning they will only pay up to a certain amount. Paintings are high value, and high target, items. According to the FBI, “Art and cultural property crime—which includes theft, fraud, looting, and trafficking across state and international lines—is a looming criminal enterprise with estimated losses running as high as $6 billion annually.”

To put this into perspective, art theft is the third highest grossing form of thievery, behind drugs and guns according to the FBI. And, while you may have a painting worth a substantial amount of money, your homeowner’s policy might max out before it even comes close to covering it. Insure your painting under a VPP plan and you will be covered for the value stated in the policy. In addition, some VPP plans don’t make you pay a deductible, meaning you won’t have to shell out a hefty amount before you recoup the rest. This is important as many consumers have purchased higher homeowners deductibles to save money.

A VPP policy is designed to cover more expensive items but will cover items worth $100 or more. Things such as furs, jewelry, cameras, musical instruments, silverware, stamps, coins, firearms, and of course, fine art, are all coveted items that deserve extra protection.

“Military families have special concerns when it comes to protecting their valuables,” mentions Ginther. Families who relocate risk having things broken during a move, and storage areas are often targeted by criminals or not properly maintained, resulting in water damage, mold and worse. In addition, military families often rent apartments in complexes, which experience more foot traffic, raising the odds of a burglary. Moving is stressful and it helps to have a VPP policy that easily moves with you. “No matter where, or how often, a family rebases, we change everything over to their new state,” adds Ginther, “We update everything so they don’t have to.” What if you move to an area which experiences earthquakes, hurricanes or floods? Most homeowner’s insurance policies exclude earthquake and flood requiring the purchase of additional coverage for these natural disasters. However, many VPP policies ensure that your most valuable items are covered, no matter what surprises Mother Nature brings.

We all want to protect the things that we love. Valuable Personal Property insurance simply ensures that the items you treasure the most will always be covered.

Valuable Personal Property Insurance Tips

Thinking of getting a Valuable Personal Property policy? Here are a few things you need to do to ensure your items receive the most comprehensive protection possible.

See what coverage you already have. Before getting a new policy, Ginther says, you should fully understand what your current homeowners, or renters policy covers, and what it doesn’t.

Get up-to-date appraisals. “The goal of any insurance is to try and make you whole again. We try and replace your items, if not we pay the value of the policy,” says Ginther. “For example, in the current economy precious metals, such as gold and platinum, have really gone up in value. If you don’t get your jewelry reappraised then we’ll only be able to pay the current value of the policy, what it was worth the last time you had an appraisal. It’s a good idea to keep your appraisals current so you can get the proper value for your items.”

Keep all documentation. The more paperwork you have—receipts, appraisals, repairs, and police reports—the easier it will be if you do have to make a claim.

Details matter. Ginther suggests that you give the insurance company a very detailed description of each item. For example, if you are insuring a diamond ring you want to list the cut, clarity, carat, color and type of gold—the more detail the better.

Understand your requirements. It is generally a good idea to keep things properly cleaned, maintained and stored, but you want to make sure that your claim can’t be denied simply for forgetting something small.

USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates.

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