Independent Insurance

What to know about insuring family heirlooms in Virginia

October 29, 2021

Your family heirlooms and most valuable possessions may not be as protected as you think they are under your standard Virginia homeowners or renters insurance policy.

The items you inherit or invest in should be cherished, but many people worry that they’ll be at a significant loss if their valuables are damaged or destroyed. Although insuring your items won’t protect the sentimental value of your items, it can offer peace of mind with added financial security.

Understanding your insurance options for heirlooms

Although a standard homeowners policy does include coverage for valuable possessions and family heirlooms, you may want to take out a separate insurance policy for your most valuable possessions to be sure they're fully covered.

A typical homeowners policy will not offer replacement cost coverage for your personal belongings if they’re damaged or destroyed. The insurer will usually pay the actual cash value of the items, which is equal to the replacement cost minus depreciation. That means you may not receive a payout that reflects the true value of your heirlooms, especially if you cannot prove that their values increased over time.

If your homeowners insurance does not offer enough coverage, you may prefer to add special coverage for your heirlooms and other high value items.

Insurance for family heirlooms doesn't just include jewelry. It can also include fine art, expensive rugs, instruments, and other antiques.

Types of personal valuables to insure

It’s important to make sure the value of your most precious items is protected. Your insurance provider may ask you to list objects worth more than a certain dollar amount.

Common valuables you may want to insure are:

  1. Jewelry
  2. Fine art and valuable photographs
  3. Musical Instruments
  4. Antiques
  5. Electronic equipment
  6. Oriental rugs
  7. Designer clothing and furs
  8. Manuscripts
  9. Collections
  10. Gold and silver

Understand your insurance policy’s coverage limits

Even with extra insurance, the full value of your items may not be fully insured. This can often happen if your personal possessions are worth more than 50% of your homeowners insurance policy.

The Virginia Corporation Commission recommends talking to your agent to amend your homeowners insurance policy if the contents of your home are with 70% to 90% of the value of your home, not including items that are listed separately.

There are homeowners insurance policy options available that will pay the full replacement cost of personal belongings that do not deduct depreciation.

It’s also important to note that your insurer may have different coverage limits for theft. According to Forbes, there’s often only a $1,500 limit for theft of jewelry, regardless of how valuable the jewelry is.

You can even choose to have your family photos insured.

Adding a rider or floater for heirlooms

The easiest way to secure more coverage for your heirlooms is usually adding them to your existing homeowners insurance policy under a rider or floater. You may able able to list each valuable item separately on the Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement of your homeowners insurance policy.

Listing items will offer a bit more insurance coverage if your items are damaged or destroyed due to a peril described in your homeowners insurance policy. Each item listed will likely increase your insurance premium. Your insurance deductible typically won’t be applied to the floater, further protecting the value of your heirlooms.

When to get a stand-alone insurance policy for heirlooms

Instead of adding valuable possessions to a homeowners insurance policy, some people prefer taking out a separate insurance policy for heirlooms and jewelry.

This helps keep your insurance claims separate. If you file a claim for a damaged item or stolen piece of jewelry, your homeowners insurance rates won’t go up as a result. At the same time, you may be able to get better insurance coverage for your items.

A separate insurance policy for heirlooms may come with its own deductible, but it will protect your items if they’re damaged or destroyed for any reason.

A stand-alone insurance policy may be a good idea if you need to protect valuable items that are at risk of being lost or destroyed. For example, a piece of jewelry you wear frequently or a rare Oriental rug that’s in your dining room may warrant special insurance considerations.

How to insure your heirlooms

Insuring your heirlooms may feel a little overwhelming, but an experienced insurance agent should be able to walk you through your options and explain your policy limits.

Record your valuable possessions

Keep records of your valuable possessions including serial numbers, receipts, and appraisal reports. Don’t forget to take photos of each item for easier identification. These records will likely be necessary if you end up filing a claim with your insurer.

We recommend storing your photos and other information online (such as on Google Drive, iCloud, DropBox, or a similar storage option), instead of on your computer. That way if you were to experience a catastrophic loss such as a house fire, you would still be able to prove to the claims adjuster what items you had in the home even if the computer was destroyed.

Having your jewelry or other valuables appraised is usually the first step to getting them insured.
Get regular appraisals

The value of your items may increase over time, making it a good idea to get a new appraisal from a certified appraiser about every three years on your most valuable possessions - your insurance provider may also require updated appraisals to keep your policy active.

Appraisals help keep up-to-date records of the condition, demand, and quality of your heirlooms, making a possible insurance claim easier to file.

If you’re not sure where to take your items to get appraised, ask your insurance agent. They likely have one or two appraisers they work with frequently and can recommend.

How much does it cost to insure family heirlooms?

The cost of insuring heirlooms depends on your insurance policy and the value of each item.

The average cost ranges from $48 to $75 per year for a $10,000 jewelry insurance policy or $100,000 of coverage for fine art, according to Consumer Reports.

Before shopping around for insurance, make sure your items have been appraised by a professional so you can get an accurate insurance quote.

Choose Ronnie Shriner Insurance Agency for your Virginia heirlooms

Protecting your most valuable possessions and family heirlooms is important, and our professionals at Shriner Insurance are happy to help you through the insurance process.  

Ronnie Shriner Insurance has proudly served residents in the Richmond, Virginia area since 1989. Based in Glen Allen, we specialize in tailored insurance plans based on each person’s specific needs, and we’re happy to help you select the best homeowners insurance option for you.

Click here to contact us online, or email You can also call our office at 804-270-0406.

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