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Thinking About Insuring Your Collection?

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Are you in the market for insurance for your sports cards or memorabilia? What’s the best way to make sure the valuable assets are documented? Are you aware that you will most likely have to first pay a deductible before the insurance kicks in to cover the rest of your collection? Let’s face it. A fire or other calamity could wipe out your entire collection. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture to think of what happens to your collection in the worst of circumstances.

Floodwaters Parkhurst cardsMany different causes could spell doom for valuable cards you thought were protected. We don’t always put our cards in a fire resistant safety box. We hoist them in card holders, binders or boxes so we can always admire them and have others admire them, too. This means most cards in our collection are generally vulnerable to the normal devastation that can occur in any home or business.  Fire, tornado, water leak, mudslide, earthquake and, of course, theft, can disrupt the emotional investment we have with our collection. So what do you do to protect yourself?  Here are some tips on sports card and memorabilia insurance.

1) Assess whether you are a candidate for insurance

Do you have a lot to lose in a total loss situation? Can the cards be replaced quickly or will it be impossible? Do you want the cards replaced or just a check for the dollar amount? These are simple questions a card collector can ask about the need for insurance.

Vintage baseball cardsGenerally if the value of your sports card collection exceeds several thousand dollars then it might be time to at least propose the question to an insurance agent who may recommend including the collection in your home owner’s policy. While this could be doable, it might not be the first choice for someone who has a lot to lose financially. The cards could either be replaced with something similar or the insured might get a check for the value (as defined by the insurance company). This is something that strikes fear in the heart of many collectors.

As we all know, some cards are nearly irreplaceable. You might not just lose a card in a total loss. With such a devastating event, there are emotions tied to these historic pieces of memorabilia. A one-of-a-kind autographed piece couldn’t possibly be replaced.  If the sports hero has passed away, this raises quite a dilemma. A card that’s among the highest known graded examples might be replaced by a near mint card. There are so many scenarios that it would be very hard to predict what outcome would result in a total loss. The unpredictable nature of how an insurance company handles a claim specific to your cards is frankly very frightening. So you want to make sure you set the insurance up in a very predictable fashion that results in you getting what you would like. It might pay to ask your local sports card dealer about their policy. They might have a business owner’s policy with a company that specifically insures baseball cards or memorabilia.

2) Find A Memorabilia Specific Company

As with any insurance, it pays to shop around, get referrals from friends and read reviews. There are several ways sports cards and memorabilia can be insured. An inSigned 1929 Yankees ball Gehrigsurance company might specifically schedule the items as part of a home owner’s policy. A person wishing to insure their high-priced cards and memorabilia might be better off to find a company that offers specific insurance toward baseball cards. There are companies out there that will do this and the price isn’t as out of reach as you might think.

Why would it pay to have a company specific to the industry insure your cards? While it seems obvious, a company that deals with this on a daily basis will perhaps appreciate the value and the accompanying loss. An insurance policy with a specific sports card insurance company would more than likely narrow the loss to just the collection. With a normal homeowner’s policy, the insurance company will be looking at the bigger picture and the total loss-perhaps excluding ultra specific items. Most insurance companies are going to want the equivalent to an appraisal with the high value cards.

insurance 3) Videotape or photograph your collection

If your collection is included in your home owner’s insurance under “personal property”, it’s a very good idea to get documentation of the cards you have. It’s not very hard to photograph or take video of your entire collection in a short period of time. The only negative about doing this is you won’t be able to tell if the cards are completely in mint condition even if you get great close up shots. Still, it’s better than the alternative and trying to recall your card collection by memory.

The biggest hitch with memory recall for your valuable and not valuable cards is that an insurance company could possibly doubt how much you have in terms of dollars worth. Insurance companies typically look at a round number for “personal property” insurance. It’s generally a certain percentage of your household replacement cost. In other words, if you have a $200,000 home the insurance company will typically cover 80% of that value to your personal belongings. This means in a $200,000  replacement cost you would have an additional 160k in personal property protection. The percentages are different with different companies.

One thing that isn’t different is the insured always has the burden of proof to show what they owned or didn’t own. So the 160k in personal property protection is up to 160k of replacement for your personal belongings. It’s vital to keep documentation or even authentication of your sports cards or memorabilia. Some insurance companies will offer an additional rider or endorsement for baseball cards. Many do not specifically cover it. If you videotape the collection and store it in a safe place, the insurance company will have the documentation they need to replace the lost items. Will they give you the total value? That’s always debatable. In the event of a total loss or partial loss, the insured should have a goal of having the greatest documentation possible. The best possible scenario is having the cards graded, videotaped and documented by a dealer or unbiased party familiar with their actual value. While you are at it, it’s never a bad idea to video or photograph your other household items as well. Store the video in a safe place so it’s available should the worst case scenario ever unfold.

4) Prioritize the collection

Baseball card collectors typically don’t just collect a few cards. Let’s admit it. We all have boxes upon boxes. It’s probably not worth your time to document every single 1987 Topps card in your collection. If you have 10-20 incredibly worthy cards, make a list and prioritize which ones need to be insured. It may take a night or two to document what you have and don’t have-but in the end it will ultimately be worth it if you were to have a complete loss. If they are very high value, get them professionally graded or appraised. Keep any documentation a dealer might have upon buying cards or new memorabilia. Remember that you are basically building your case of evidence in the event of a loss. These days you can digitally store such documentation online.

money5) Know your deductible

Here’s an important lesson in the world of insurance pertaining to sports cards. It’s very important to know what your deductible is. A deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before the insurance actually kicks in and assumes the rest of the cost. If you include your baseball cards in your homeowner’s policy, it’s important to note that it will be subject to your deductible. So let’s say the roof leaks after hail damage and the only thing spoiled are your baseball cards up in the attic. If your home deductible is $1,000 with your homeowner’s policy, you’ll have to first fork over that amount before the insurance even begins. So if you only had $1,500 worth of cards and memorabilia, you’ll pay 1k to get the other $500 covered. If you only have $800 of cards, you won’t even reach your deductible and it wouldn’t even be worth your time to file a claim.

If you schedule the property, you might be able to get a lower deductible specific to your baseball cards. It’s important to know that most insurance companies are going to want proof of the cards you have and the value in relation. Insurance companies specific to the industry could potentially offer a lower deductible as well.

Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to decide whether insurance is a good bet or not. Cards with incredibly high values are usually no-brainers. At worst, it’s at least worth a phone call to get a quote or to see what happens to your collection in the event the unthinkable actually happens to you.

About Chris Goodman

Chris Goodman is a Midwest-based writer and broadcast pro who has been covering sports for more than 15 years. He's also a licensed insurance agent with experience in all types of coverage.

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