Personal Property Protection – Is Your Coverage Adequate?

Personal Property Protection – Is Your Coverage Adequate?

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Congratulations! You just bought an ATV or received a diamond anniversary band. Do you have an art collection or heirloom silverware and china? That’s wonderful, but no matter how much personal property insurance you have on your homeowner’s policy, there are special limits of liability and certain items that are not covered.

Saving money is important to all of us, but we have to make sure we are protected as much as possible for the money we spend on insurance.  Ask yourself, “Is my coverage adequate?” Is your coverage meeting the needs of your family?  To what extent are your valuables covered?  Personal property coverage is described in Coverage C of your homeowner’s policy. Depending on your policy, a certain percentage (usually50% – 70%) of the amount covering your home will cover your personal property.

In fact, that personal property protection will follow you beyond your home.  A few years back, our client’s daughter attended college in Rochester.  She and her roommate rented an off-campus apartment that unfortunately experienced a fire. Although she and her roommate were not hurt, her personal property was a total loss.  This included all of her clothing, furniture, college books, computer, and so much more. Fortunately, her father called the office and I reassured him that 10% of coverage C could be used to replace her damaged property.  Like most college students his daughter’s cell phone contained many pictures of her apartment.  She had saved receipts from her computer and college books that gave the insurance adjuster a great picture of the loss.

Personal property of college students is subject to the 10% limit of their parent’s Coverage C.  According to most insurance experts, in most cases, the 10% limit under the parents’ Homeowners Policy is usually sufficient.  If more coverage is needed, some item can have increased coverage as described below or, the student can purchase a renter’s policy.

The Homeowner’s Policy provides extremely broad coverage for personal property. It covers personal property owned or USED by an insured ANYWHERE in the world.  Coverage C follows your property when in or on a motor vehicle. Property at your camp or second residence is included. Property stored in a storage facility also has the same protection as items found in your home.  However, this becomes complicated by the many limits, conditions and exclusions found in Coverage C.

There are special Limits of Liability no matter how much coverage C, personal property coverage, you have on your homeowner’s policy. Insurance companies vary significantly on the amount of Coverage C for personal items. A typical policy may include specific or special limits something like this:

$200 on money, book notes, bullion, gold, silver, medals.

$1,500 on securities, accounts, deeds, letters of credit, evidence of debt, bank notes, passports, tickets, stamps

$1,500 on watercraft of all types including their trailers and furnishing equipment

$1,500 for loss or theft of jewelry, watches, furs, precious and semi-precious stones

$2,500 for loss of firearms and related equipment

$2,500 for loss or theft of silverware, goldware and trophies

$2,500 for property used for business purposes

$1,500 for electronic apparatus and accessories while upon or in a motor vehicle

$1,500 for electronic apparatus used primarily for business

Some companies state that scheduled item in excess of $2,500 requires an appraisal that is no more than three years old.  The appraisal must be done by a qualified merchant, with an understanding of the characteristics of the property involved.  Items under $2,500 still need a complete description.

Properties Not Covered: Animals, birds, fish, motor vehicles including snowmobiles, ATVs, RTVs, and mini-bikes

More Specifically:

Property Not Covered. We do not cover:

Motor vehicles or any other motorized land conveyances. This includes:

 1.    Their equipment and accessories; or

2.     Electronic apparatus that is designed to be operated solely by the use of the power from the electrical system of motor vehicles or all other motorized land conveyances. Electronic apparatus includes:

a. Accessories or antennas; or

b. Tapes, wires, records, discs or other media; for use with any electronic apparatus.

We do cover vehicles or conveyances not subject to motor vehicle registration which are:

1.    Used to service an “insured’s” residence; like a lawnmower

2.    Designed for assisting the handicapped;

So, unless the ATV is used to service the residence or assist the handicapped (unlikely), there is no coverage. There are recreational vehicle policies designed to cover the property and liability exposures of such vehicles.

Items that you can increase coverage with a personal property floater for an additional premium:

a. Jewelry, watches, furs

b. Firearms

c. Money & Securities

d. Silverware

e. Electronics

Items that need a separate policy:

a. Large boats

b. ATVs & RTVs

c. Motorcycles & Snowmobiles

Remember, we do not know what personal property you purchase or its value unless you tell us.  We cannot provide you with adequate coverage during a loss if we are not informed.

An important step to adequate coverage employs taking inventory of your property.

Start by taking photographs or video recordings of your home.  Be sure to include the contents of cupboards and closets.  Remember to clearly record electronics, silverware, jewelry and other valuables.

To estimate the dollar value of your possessions,

  • List the items in each room.
  • Calculate the value of each item and its age.
  • Total the value of the items in each room.
  • Figure the grand total of your home’s contents.

You can request a personal property Household Inventory Guide by calling the office at 585 589-6236 or by emailing the office at information@thesouthcottagency.com

The inventory record will break down your personal property by rooms and list the most common contents found in the room.  It includes the curtains, decorations, artwork and electronics commonly found there as a reminder and guide.  Many times, areas like the attic are overlooked even though they may store heirlooms and other valuables.  The garage and basement are probably full of gardening tools, power tools and equipment.  Lawn furniture and grill can also be expensive to replace.  The inventory also separates personal effects for men, women, and children.

One area often overlooked is hobbies and sports equipment.  If you took inventory of these items you might be shocked by the amount of money you have invested in items like photographic equipment, exercise equipment, bicycles, camping equipment, sewing supplies, hunting gear and so much more.

Pay particular attention to items that have limitations on the coverage amount.  Your pictures, videos and actual appraisals will make settling a loss much easier.  Remember many of these valuables have limits of coverage and require a “floater” or endorsement that will increase the policy premium.  These endorsements are absolutely necessary to insure their maximum worth.

There is no avoiding the facts.  There really is more to homeowner’s insurance than saving money!  In fact, while it’s nice to lower your insurance costs, it’s even more important to make sure you, your loved ones, and your assets are adequately covered.  It may not be a pleasant thought, but insurance is about the worst-case scenarios.  It is mostly about peace of mind, knowing that you have the worst-case scenarios covered.

We invite you to call the office (585) 589-6236 when you have questions regarding the coverage of your personal property and for additional coverage on items that are not included in Coverage C.

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