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Are You Sure That Heirloom Oriental Rug From Your Aunt Hilda Is Really Insured?


Gone are the days of the cinder block and wood plank bookcases. You've come along way from that old reliable jut rug and CDs (or in some cases, actual vinyl albums) stored in milk crates. That's the way it is with first apartments, and sometimes second and third apartments too. It's what you were able to afford when you first set out own your own. And it was fun, sort of. But today's a new day, and you've paid your dues and then some. You're the king or queen of your own castle, a castle as well-appointed as any luxury model home, with beautiful area rugs, antique furnishings, and other treasurers that you'd hate ever to see lost.

Because your home, and to a certain extent the items in that furnish it, will most likely be the best investment you're likely to make, it's important to protect this investment and those items that enhance it. The simplest way to do this is to make sure that you are carrying adequate insurance coverage on your home and its furnishings.

How Much Coverage is Enough?

Determining the amount of coverage needed is crucial. Say, that beautiful oriental rug once belonging to Great Aunt Hilda has finally come to rest in your hands, only to be irrevocably damaged when someone at the party you're hosting spills Merlot on it. Other than frantically going at it on all fours, with club soda and Baby Wipes to the delight of your guests, what would you need to do in order to be "made whole" again, and most importantly, stop Great Aunt Hilda from spinning in her grave?

First, if you own your home and have a mortgage on it held by a bank, then you will be required to maintain adequate coverage on the "dwelling," the actual building which makes up the structure of your home for the life of the loan. The lender recognizes the value of this investment, and will make sure that their investment is protected by requiring it be adequately covered by insurance. But how does this insurance coverage extend to Great Aunt Hilda's prized Persian rugs and all the other furnishings that adorn the inside of your castle/home?

Estimating Value

An insurance agent writing a policy on your home will probably leave an estimation of the value of your home's contents to your discretion. Your insurance agent may even ask you directly: "How much do you think your household contents are worth?" Following this query with yet another you may or may not feel qualified to answer: "Is that replacement or actual estimated value?" Your agent may encourage you to opt for coverage that allows for those lost items to be either made whole again either by: repair, replacement or receipt of cash payment--as most common household furnishings (other than fine art and other collectables), depreciate considerably in value with time.

But what about those two rare oriental rugs left to you by dear Aunt Hilda? Will you be expected to determine the value for these items? Well, not exactly. It's one thing for you to estimate the value of last year's CD player for $129, when it's costs may be closer to $89, and quite another for you to estimate the value of a pair of rugs at $5000 each. Because you are limited to $1000 coverage per theft on these types of items when claimed under your Homeowner's policy, an estimation of $5000 for each rug under your standard policy would only you provide with $1000 worth of coverage, for items you say are worth closer to $10,000. That's why you may want to consider covering such items, those you value at over $1,000, with a Schedule to your Homeowner's policy.

  • So, what is a Schedule?
    It's a list of items which may not receive adequate coverage under your standard Homeowner's coverage.

  • Who should consider a Schedule?
    If you own fine art, rare collectables, guns, jewelry, silverware, and fine area rugs, you might very well benefit by having a Schedule added to your policy.

  • Do Schedules cover loss other than standard peril?
    Items listed on the Schedule are subject to broader coverage-beyond fire and peril--than those provided for under the standard Homeowner's policy. Schedule items include coverage for accidental and unforeseeable occurrences: like rugs permanently stained by Merlot.

  • Are Schedule items included under the deductible?
    A Schedule also benefits you because these items are not subject to a deductible.

  • What proof needs to be provided to add a Schedule to your Homeowner's policy?
    To include a Schedule to your homeowner's policy, will be asked to substantiate the value of each item to be included on the Schedule. This can be provided in the form of certificates of authenticity, sales receipt or by appraisals.

Whether or not your household items merit the inclusion of a Schedule should be determined by you, the homeowner, assisted by your insurance agent. This way, with a little additional coverage, your Aunt Hilda's treasured rugs may exist to be passed on to the next generation.

Willett Thomas (willett_thomas@yahoo.com)is a freelance writer living in the Brookland section of Washington, D.C.


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