Don't go by purchase receipts; seek out a good appraiser for each item. This all but guarantees you have the documentation needed to satisfy insurance requirements, determine replacement value and ensure that an accurate, up-to-date value is paid out. Keep in mind, whenever possible, to document where an item was bought, since a Manhattan jeweler may charge more than one in the Midwest for an otherwise similar piece.
It is also important to inventory pieces as they are bought. ACE sends out reminders of this to clients each holiday season and after Valentine's Day, times when new jewelry is likely to have been gifted.
"Something bad happens to people and then they sit down and try to recreate what they had," Courtemanche says. "They always sell themselves short. With all the things they have accumulated over the years, some things invariably get missed."
Especially for the more affluent with more valuable collections, security should be top of mind, Courtemanche says. That includes background checks for hired help and contractors, including seeking out criminal records or a history of financial problems.
"You need to understand who that is who is in your house and has access to your things," he says. "Unsavory types see the same press on the price of gold."
Courtemanche points out that it can be five to six times cheaper to insure jewelry stored in a bank safety deposit box than at home. That doesn't mean you can't still wear a piece, although insurers may place a limit on how frequently an items can be removed from the vault.
"We also advise people to get a safe that is actually installed in their home so it can't be carried away by a thief or thieves," he says.
When traveling, never store jewelry in a checked bag.
"In the last two or three years, in loss reports, we have seen thefts from baggage as a major cause of loss," Courtemanche says. "Make sure you are carrying it with you when you go through security and that nothing leaves your sight."
-- Written by Joe Mont in Boston.
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