15 Tips from a Professional Appraiser, Pre-Disaster
1) Elevate your stored fine art and works on paper using a square made of two by fours: most works on paper or canvas are water damaged at the bottom quarter of the piece
2) If you leave on one electronic thing, leave on a HEPA air filter
3) Shoot photos of the interiors of boxes in your garage; paste that photo on the outside. Make a file: “contents of the garage” for your OFFICE computer.
4) Know your insurance policy. Ask your agent for a yearly review. Ask what the terms appreciable and depreciable mean. Understand the limits on jewelry, silver, stamps, coins, on your standard homeowner’s policy. If something is worth over $1,500, ask if you need a RIDER. Ask what a SCHEDULE should include.
5) Have an offsite physical or electronic storage file with photos of each room, as well as a video of yourself explaining certain items. Prove location and ownership.
6) Have a file, virtual or digital, of your insurance papers. Ask your agent if this should include sales receipts.
7) For fine wines, fine rugs, or couture clothing, consider a climate controlled storage unit.
8) Know how to turn off the water main. Hang a crescent wrench by the gas shut-off value. Have a plan for propane tanks, and the flammable chemicals in the garage. Know where your fire extinguisher lives. Put your pet’s inoculation charts in your phone. Put a pair of shoes and gloves permanently under your bed; a natural disaster causes broken glass.
9) Shoot photos of each closet and drawer now. One object recalls another after a loss. For example, a client ‘found’ her grandmother’s stuffing spoon and remembered she had also lost her turkey platter.
10) Ask your insurance agent about more than 100% replacement cost coverage for objects that appreciate more than five percent a year. Reviews are recommended every three years; a valuable painting can appreciate greatly in that time.
11) For the next three months, take one day to gather donate-ables. Things most vulnerable to clutter: • Closets: Linen, Bedding, and cleaning supplies • Paper souvenirs: greeting cards and photos. (Old film and photos are flammable) • Winter outdoorwear • Holiday stuff • Your spouse’s old projects
12) Sit down with an insurance broker, as opposed to an agent, and ask if it's a good idea to have a separate insurer for special collections rider coverage. Homeowner’s Insurers may not understand the finer points of art collections: authenticity, condition, restoration.
13) Understand Loss of Value: after a disaster, if a piece is restored, and later sold, it may not bring the dollar amount that an untouched piece will bring. Once an 18th century finish is off a piece of furniture, it's worth about half of its original value. Loss of Value coverage is payment for the hypothetical loss of sales proceeds.
14) A collection of objects is worth MORE than the sum of PARTS. Ask your insurer how they approach sets. With formal china, if one piece of a set is damaged, the set no longer exists. You should be made whole for a full set of china if the tureen in broken.
15) If you do nothing else, take digital high resolution photos of significant objects, as well as a video of your home to explain the significance. Establish location and ownership pre-loss.