Do you know the true value of your belongings?

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The changing value of collections

It’s not just bricks and mortar that make a home, but a lifetime of accumulated possessions: some precious and treasured, others stored away and overlooked; some collected on your travels, others gifted or inherited and containing great sentimental value.

If you have a collection of fine art and antiques, jewellery or other collectables then they may be worth a lot of money. But how much exactly? Such items rarely move in line with inflation and prices can fluctuate considerably over time.

The importance of valuations 

It’s essential to know how much your belongings are worth to ensure you have adequate insurance that will cover you should you need to make a claim.

It’s not just the obvious items you need to consider. Guy Vaissiere, director at art advisory firm Gurr Johns, says: “It’s amazing what one accumulates as you go through life. It’s not all about very expensive art collections and antiques. Even if you haven’t gone out shopping and spent tens of thousands or more on fine art and valuables, be aware of what you collect on life’s journey.”

Guy stresses the importance of considering ‘mundane’, but valuable, possessions such as carpets and curtains. But he also points to the need to consider collections such as handbags or even quirkier items like collections of trainers, which can also be worth lots of money.

Preventing underinsurance

Inaccurately calculating the value of your home contents could leave you open to the risk of being ‘underinsured’.

Underinsurance is when the amount you’re covered for by your insurance is less than the cost of replacing or repairing your belongings. It can result in claims of damage or loss being only partially met or not at all by insurance.

If you have expensive items – perhaps jewellery, fine art or collections – then it’s particularly important to be mindful that standard insurance may not fully protect you or include access to specialist repair or replacement services.

Mark Smith, director at valuation specialists Quastel Associates, says: “About 80-90% of clients we see are incorrectly insured. The biggest problem is that people forget about boring stuff like kitchen equipment, books, curtains and carpets and clothes. It all adds up.”

Am I underinsured?

Consider the following to help keep up to date with valuations and avoid being underinsured:

  • Estimate the cost if you had to buy your belongings new, rather than the price you initially paid for them; you may choose to use a specialist valuer to help with this
  • Undertake a room-by-room inventory of your home contents, including carpets and curtains, clothing and shoes, sports equipment, and items kept in drawers and cupboards
  • Have any items that you have recently inherited – such as antiques, fine art, and other collectables – valued by an expert to get an accurate reflection of their market value
  • Speak to a professional about how to protect your valuable assets and ensure your insurance policy is suitable for your needs.

Don’t forget items in storage, in a safe or even in outbuildings and garages. It’s easy to overlook expensive items, like bicycles, golf clubs, and sports equipment. “Garden equipment, like ride-on lawn mowers and garden furniture have gone up in value,” says Alastair Meiklejon, senior valuer and wristwatch specialist at Doerr Dallas Valuations.

It works both ways, and some people are over-insured; they are paying more than necessary to insure belongings that aren’t worth as much as they used to be. Mark says: “Tastes have changed and some items like antique furniture have gone down in value since the turn of the century and could be over-insured.” 

Seek professional help

If you have many valuable items in your home, then consider seeking the advice of an expert valuer. As well as accurately valuing your possessions, they can also advise you on how to care for them.

Alastair tells the story of a client who overcame their initial reluctance to have their belongings valued, which revealed that some items were worth much more than expected and weren’t suitably insured. He says: “Someone broke into their house and stole a handbag collection worth £75,000. If they hadn’t had that valuation, they would have been underinsured and wouldn’t have been covered to replace more than 10% of the collection.”

We understand this well and as part of our NFU Mutual Bespoke Home Insurance we work with trusted partners who can, for a fee, provide a valuation for your belongings.

NFU Mutual Bespoke Home Insurance is specially designed to cover high-value homes and contents. Tailored around you and your lifestyle to give you the peace of mind that your most valuable possessions are in safe hands.