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The Collector

Some of us are bitten by the bug, some of us aren't. I mean the collecting bug. The interest, the desire, perhaps even the urge to obtain ever more examples of the objects we are enamored with. Could be trading cards, could be old bottles, could be rubber stamps, it could be old board games. Really, it could be just about anything. Just about anything you can think of, people collect. Old cereal boxes? Yep. Vintage and antqiue tractors? Yep. Salt and pepper shakers? Sure. Tennis shoes? Of course. Etc, etc, etc.

These collections are often the most treasured items owned. A collector will often have invested a great deal of time as well as money in obtaining the pieces that comprise the collection. There may be many fond memories associated with examples that were gifted, purchased while traveling, or found hidden away in a box at an estate sale. Pride of ownership definitely plays a part in the psychology of the collector - knowing that they have a particularly rare or particularly fine examples of whatever it is that they collect. Collecting can be a very rewarding and enjoyable hobby in this way.

While some collections may not have much monetary value (say, vintage matches), others can be quite pricey indeed (old cars, historic firearms, Tiffany lamps, etc). At some point, the collector needs to turn his or her attention to insuring what has been patiently and joyously gathered over the years. Because as we know, accidents and tragedies do occur. Fires, theft, breakage - these are all risks that exist. Most of us already choose to insure our homes if we own, or to buy renter's insurance if we rent. These policies will make us "whole" again after a loss by paying the actual cash value of the item in question. Actual cash value is typically defined as replacement value minus depreciation. However, certain collectibles and antiques are not eligible for replacement cost coverage. This is partly due to difficulty in knowing what qualifies as a "replacement" for rare or one of a kind items. For example, imagine a collector of Hollywood memorabilia has obtained a dress known to be worn by Marilyn Monroe at the Oscars. Tragically, the dress is lost in a fire. A standard insurance policy written to provide replacement value for losses would perhaps go into the market to find out what the dress costs to buy new. Now, while the make and model of a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe might be available in the market, such a dress certainly does not have same "worth" that comes with the notable provenance of the lost dress.

Make it a practice to document your collection(s). Take photos, keep records including receipts. Being able to establish what you had and what you paid for it will help insure you get an acceptable settlement from your insurance company should a need arise.

Also, standard homeowners insurance policies may have maximum amount of coverage for certain categories. Jewelry is perhaps the most common example. And some policies simply exclude art and collectibles outright. What this all means is that the owner of a valuable collection should probably consider reviewing his or her insurance policy and whether the purchase of a Personal Articles Floater is needed.

Your agent will of course want to know the value of your collection so that the correct amount of insurance can be purchased. In most cases, this will be best obtained by having an appraisal done. Markets for collectibles can change rapidly and what you paid for the item may not be a good representation of what it could bring today. You wouldn't want to be left without sufficient coverage nor do you want to be paying more in premiums than you need to be.

Even after you have purchased insurance, your needs aren't over. It would be wise to review the value of your collection periodically. How often you do this depends on things like the size of your collection, how fast it is growing, and what the market has been doing. Plan on at least every five years. This review will then allow you to reset the amount of insurance you have.

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