How to Protect Your Collectibles

Marie Kondo is getting nowhere near my collectibles. Between Lego, comic books, and action figures, I have a lot of stuff that’s not essential yet valuable to me. If you have a valuable collection too, you should have more than just a standard home insurance policy to cover it.

Many people have collections that are more valuable than they realize and haven’t sought adequate insurance to cover the cost of replacing them. And these collections are not just frivolous items. For some, they contribute to their livelihood and help them generate income, even if it’s only a side hustle.

While a single crate of records, a couple of shelves of books, or one box of tools might be covered by a standard home, condo, or tenant insurance policy, a more expansive collection of collectibles needs additional coverage because their value exceeds the limits of residential insurance.

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Insure Your Childhood Nostalgia

If they still bring you joy, your collectibles may date back to childhood, or it may be a collection you’ve acquired recently for a specific purpose.

I never got rid of the Lego that I had as a child, and their value has increased. Older toys such as original Star Wars action figures can also be worth far more than their original retail value. And if mom didn’t throw them out when she was cleaning the basement of your childhood home, you may still have hockey cards and comic books that can fetch a pretty penny.

Safeguard Collections That Generate Cash

Some collections aren’t just childhood nostalgia; they’re used every day, and in some cases to help make a living.

A semi-retired academic or lawyer may have a collection of reference books they regularly use that are long out of print and perhaps not even available in digital format. Ask anyone serious about woodworking as a hobby, and they will tell you the tools aren’t cheap, and they become even more valuable if you like to make things you can sell to friends, neighbours, and acquaintances.

Similarly, you may not be a full-time mechanic. But if you have an antique car in your garage you’re refurbishing or enjoy small engine repair enough to fix other people’s lawnmowers, snowblowers and whipper snippers, your collection isn’t just worth money. It helps you make money, and that should factor into the value you place on them.

Know What You Have and What It’s Worth

Before you can even determine what the value of your collections might be, you need to know what you have, and it’s always a good idea to have an inventory of your belongings for insurance purposes. If you do find yourself needing to make a claim, you can streamline the process because you’ve determined your ideal coverage from the outset.

Even without unique collectibles and collections, creating a comprehensive home inventory list can be a daunting task. It could take several different forms — a written list, a video tour of your home, or a series of photos. No matter what you’re trying to inventory, start small and group common things together. If you’re not sure where to start, pick a room, but you want to be comprehensive, so once you’ve recorded everything in your primary residence be sure to add any valuables in a storage unit or shed.

For collectors, it makes sense to start where you store your valuable items — woodworkers likely have all their tools where they do their work, as do hobbyist mechanics. In some cases, a detailed spreadsheet can make a lot of sense. The good news for many collectors of nostalgia there’s probably an app that can help you inventory your baseball cards, comic books, Lego and other childhood toys.

No matter what tool you use, the goal is to be thorough — the more information, the better, so include specific serial numbers, proofs of value such as receipts with dates, or appraisals. Be sure to back up your list to a secondary site by either making physical copies or having a digital copy in the cloud.

Does Your Collection Exceed Your Home Insurance Policy’s Limit?

The most important thing to remember is that you’re itemizing these valuable collections because they exceed what you a typical home insurance policy might cover, and ultimately as a collector seeking adequate insurance coverage you want to establish a specific replacement value. In some cases, it may make sense to have your collection formally appraised by a certified expert.

Never assume your home insurance policy covers your collections — most place limits on home contents coverage. Whatever you collect or why, you should seek specialized coverage to adequately cover their value, either as an addition to your existing policy or through a provider that specializes in insuring collectibles and other rare items.

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