Old dime collection from 1940s | leezsnow/E+/Getty Images
Leezsnow/E+/Getty Images

Dear Insurance Adviser,
My home insurance company will not pay for the loss of a coin collection, in a burglary, that contained numismatic coins older than 1964. These I believe are considered “cash.” The insurance adjuster is saying that the maximum loss for cash is $250. Yes, the mercury dimes and buffalo nickels, etc., might still be accepted at face value, but they are worth much more as collectibles. I have also been informed that my 1880s gold coins, worth $1,900, and my silver bullion coins, worth $57, are also considered cash and therefore not covered. The total amount of my loss is over $7,000. Why won’t my insurer give me what the items are worth?
— Roger

Dear Roger,
All homeowners policies have very small coverage limits on money and other “numismatic” property — typically about $200. They also put limits on many other types of personal property.

Here are a few examples:

  • $2,500 on sterling silverware.
  • $1,000 on stamp collections.
  • $1,000 on jewelry and furs.
  • $1,000 on personal watercraft and their trailers.
  • $2,500 on business property at home and $250 away from home.

Some insurance companies even put limits on baseball cards and comic books, of typically $1,000 each.

One thing that the different kinds of collections have in common is the difficulty in proving that you even had them and then in valuing them. For example, suppose you have an 1890 buffalo head nickel. Depending on its condition, it could be worth anywhere from 5 cents to $2,000. If a coin collection has been stolen, how would you prove the condition it was in?

The 2nd thing that these limited property items have in common is that you can amend your homeowners policy and either increase the limit and/or schedule the items for an additional premium. In the case of a coin collection, that additional premium can be huge. I don’t recommend buying extra coverage when preventing the loss is so much easier and less expensive.

You might effectively prevent the loss of collectibles, such as a coin collection, by putting them in a safe deposit box. If it is important to you to have them available at your home, then consider installing a home safe and/or a burglar alarm monitored by a central station.

It’s your home insurance agent’s job to know the internal policy limits on different types of property, to communicate those limits to you and to see if you want to buy additional coverage. If you are not getting all of that from your agent now, it may be time to find a better agent.

Good luck!

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