Just because the candy canes are gone, the tree is in the trash and the poinsettia is dead doesn’t mean the holidays are over. For that to be true, you need to buy some more insurance.
And it wouldn’t kill you to get off your keister and take down those outside Christmas lights either, bub.
I know you thought you were done when you wrestled that creepy, giant inflatable elf off the lawn and into the attic and figured out that you can pay the off Visa bill sometime in, say, the next six years. But if Santa brought expensive electronics, cameras or jewelry down your chimney, you’ll need to call your insurance agent.
Saddle up a (policy) rider
Typically, most homeowners or renters policy will cover only a set amount of your personal property, says Amy Danise, editor director of Insure.com. “Jewelry is often limited to $1,000 for each piece or $2,500 as a group,” Denise says, so if you popped the question to your sweetie on Christmas Eve with a $5,000 engagement ring, you could be out of luck if it’s lost or stolen.
The answer is to add a rider to your policy that will specifically cover your most valuable items. Riders come in two versions: a “floater,” which just extends your homeowners coverage up to the purchase price or appraised value of an item, or a separate “all risk” policy, or “scheduled personal property” rider, which covers just about any theft, damage or loss of your baubles and bangles.
The big difference between the two types of coverage is what happens to you if something happens to your bling. With a rider, you’ll need to prove that the damage or loss is covered under the provisions of your policy. With all risk coverage, the insurance company would have to prove that you aren’t covered.
“That’s the way to go if you have individual pieces of high value,” Danise says, whether that’s jewelry, electronics, antiques, collectibles, musical instruments or any valuable stuff. “With scheduled personal property you can do the same for furs and firearms, too.”
Don't leave gold in the cold
It isn’t just newly purchased items that you need to worry about, either. The value of any good jewelry that you’ve owned for years has most likely risen — especially with the way gold has soared in the last few years — meaning that it’s now worth more than your homeowners limits. Get a jeweler’s written appraisal, then call your insurance agent.
Also make sure both your name and your sweetie’s are on the policy, especially if you aren’t living together. That way, if her engagement rings slips down the drain at her place instead of yours, it’s still covered.
The average rate is $1 to $3 for every $100 of extra coverage you’re adding, so that $5,000 engagement ring will cost about $50 to $150 a year to insure. The cost will depend on your insurer’s policies and things like whether you keep grandma’s inherited pearls in a safe.
So, dial up your agent and that’ll take care of one Christmas leftover. As for other post-holiday issues, here’s the secret to instantly losing 2 pounds of ugly holiday weight: take off that god-awful reindeer sweater. Or at least turn off the battery for Rudolph’s nose.
“The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese” is Brian O’Connor’s humorous guide to budget-cutting. Now available at www.bit.ly/1000orders