Wildfire Prevention Tip #22: Insuring Valuables

August 16th, 2015

A previous article addressed using home insurance policies to cover your valuables so that their value would be documented and your investment protected through your insurance company and/or the use of fire-rated safes. Much of the contents in your home is considered your “valuables;” i.e. unusual, expensive designer furniture; silver/gold/crystal dining ware; silverware utensils; furs; gold, silver and jeweled jewelry pieces; expensive watches and time-pieces; sculpture, paintings and other pieces of artwork; etc.

Many, if not all, insurance companies have homeowner policies that primarily cover the improvements to the property, i.e. the structures, and usually cover some of the less-expensive contents like standard furniture. Most insurance companies have attachment or supplemental policies for valuables as described above. Insurance companies normally want to know the worth of these items if they are to provide coverage for loss or damage of the listed items, i.e. proof of purchase price and/or an official appraisal, depending on the items involved. These appraisals or proofs of purchase form the basis for reimbursement in the event of loss or from destruction via a fire. It is suggested that you establish an understanding with your insurance representative on what you are expecting to have covered by your policy; be sure that the representative has the values for determining the replacement costs of the items and a basis for determining the cost of insurance coverage.

A side issue is using a manufactured fire-rated safe for storing your valuables or literately building a “fire proof/rated room” in the house for keeping your valuables. It is very possible in today’s home building market to construct a 4-hour-rated room that is equipped with a fire-suppression system as a part of the home construction. The requirements for such ratings are spelled out in detail as a part of the City of Austin Building Codes; Architects and Contractors are well aware of these criteria. Use of such fire-rated safes and/or fire-rated rooms should result in a significant reduction in your insurance rates for valuables within the home that are kept safe in such a way. If you want to learn more about fire-rated rooms, send us email at [email protected] and we’ll have someone explain what’s involved.

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