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Thinking about the unthinkable: Your collection vs. a natural disaster

Do you need collectibles insurance?

The American Collectors Insurance team wants to see all collections protected up to their full collector value. Learn more about why specialty insurance may be a good option for your collection.

Let’s get this out of the way up front: of course we think you should insure your collection. We wouldn’t have jobs if we didn’t! But there’s more to our belief in protecting your collectibles with insurance other than self-preservation.

We’re collectors, too. While not everyone who works at American Collectors Insurance owns antiques, collectibles or classic cars, there are many enthusiastic collectors among us. Our marketing coordinator is into baseball cards; our business development guy loves comic books; one of our customer service representatives is an avid coin collector; while another customer service representative proudly rides her show-winning motorcycle to the office on occasion.

We hear stories every day from dedicated collectors, our customers. So we get just how devastating, emotionally and financially, it can be to lose a lifetime of pieces you’ve invested so much time in accumulating.. Unfortunately, we also know all too well the tale of the collector who thought their homeowners insurance would cover their collectibles for their full value, only to find this is not the case. And while we’re happy to help protect these collectors moving forward, we wish they hadn’t come to us after experiencing such a loss.

We’re writing this article to let you know that advising in favor of insurance is not a scare tactic – it’s a common sense measure to help ensure that, in the event of the unthinkable, you’ll be fairly compensated for your collectible losses. Whether you choose to insure your collection with us, or this article inspires you to at the very least research your options, we’ll have done our job. Read on to learn more about this essential step of protecting what you collect.

Why insure: Natural disasters are becoming more common

Areas that have rarely experienced severe weather and unusual natural events are becoming affected by these events more and more frequently. According to NASA, global climate change is real and will impact our economy and environment for the foreseeable future, triggering extreme temperatures, higher amounts of precipitation, and more severe flooding.

In addition to these new threats, there are still the expected dangers in regions of the US that have come to anticipate impact from mother nature in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, heat waves, earthquakes, and wildfires. With this in mind, figuring out ways to keep your collection safe – out of harm’s way and financially protected – are more important than ever.

Collector losses in the news

Among the most recent weather-related headlines was the news of severe flash flooding in the Boulder, CO area (also affecting other states along the South Platte River). Comic book collector Wayne Winsett lost his collection, which he thought was safely and securely stored in his basement. It was to be his retirement fund.

Wayne’s story is unfortunately common, but collectibles get involved in these disasters in other ways – even when not damaged by the event. In a story from last May, a Jersey Shore native began auctioning off his comic book collection to pay for repairs to his business, which did not have flood insurance and was damaged extensively during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

This year’s massive Rim wildfire in Yosemite National Park also reminds us of a story told by one of our policyholders located in Oklahoma, where a large wildfire raged in 2012. This particular fire threatened homes and businesses, including the home of this collector. His collection of guns and stamps, valued at over $23,000 was stored in a fireproof safe – which melted with the heat and intensity of the fire, leaving its contents completely destroyed and their owner devastated. In this instance, a typical homeowner’s policy would not have provided adequate compensation for the loss of the collection – most policies provide around $2,500 for collectibles, an amount that’s typically not an accurate representation of full collector value. Luckily for this particular collector, his specialty insurance coverage allowed him to recover his collection’s losses for its full value.

What you might not know about specialty insurance for collectibles

There are certainly a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to collectibles insurance. We’re happy to set some of the record straight based on what is available through our own collectibles insurance policies, and are always open to hearing your questions and concerns. For example, did you know*:

- Collectibles insurance offers “full collector value” coverage. That means the value is agreed upon between you and your insurer, and it doesn’t depreciate. Homeowners insurance, on the other hand, will usually cover only actual cash value.

- Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood, hurricane, earthquake, accidental breakage or packaging. Specialty collectors insurance typically covers all of these things.

- Collectibles insurance is tailored specifically to collectors, versus simply adding a rider onto an existing homeowners policy. Specialty coverage can account for inflation and provide extra coverage for your collection depending on how you use it: shipping pieces, storing outside of your home, using items for special occasions, etc.

Got a question about insuring a collection? Here’s your chance to ask the experts. E-mail us at, leave a comment below, or call 1-800-360-2277.

*Not all collectibles insurance policies are the same. This information is based on the coverage offered by American Collectors Insurance only. Check with your insurance agent to best understand the specifics of your policy.

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