Though it is not something you want to think about, the possibility of losing or being stolen from your favourite piece of jewelry is not one that you should ignore. Many victims of theft or loss find it difficult and frustrating to claim on their insurance. Insurance companies are known for their extraordinary ability to “wriggle” with claims. The small print suddenly becomes more important than what was written at the time.
We hear it all the time that victims of theft are unable to seek compensation for their losses because they do not meet the terms of their insurance policies or the amount that was paid was insufficient to replace the item. There are also insurance companies that refuse to pay for the loss in cash and insist that the customer purchase jewellery equal to the amount of the loss from a ‘associated’ jewelry store. Many of these stores may have jewellery that is inferior to the one that was lost.
It is possible to avoid much of the frustration by taking some simple precautionary steps ahead of any unfortunate event that may lead to you needing to file an insurance claim. First, ensure you have a receipt or purchase invoice when buying jewellery. Make sure the jeweler you are buying jewellery from gives a detailed description of the items purchased. It should also include information about the precious metal used, including its weight. Details about gemstones must include their quality, weights, and grades. If a discount was offered, the price should be clearly stated. The receipt should be kept safe in a file system at home, so it is easy to find in case of a claim.
To prove and identify the value of treasured items, it is not enough to just have an original purchase bill. The item’s value will likely increase over time. It is essential to keep a current valuation in order to have a clear picture of the jewelry to be insured. A qualified jeweller should update the value of insured jewellery every three to four year. Two important functions will serve the insurance valuation in the event of a loss:
- First, a detailed description will allow the police to identify your jewellery if it is found. The police may not be able to return jewellery to the rightful owner if the proof isn’t available. When identifying the items that have been recovered, there is no way to doubt the details of weight and measurement, as well as photographs.
- A second valuation will allow you to verify that you have sufficient insurance and that the insurance company pays out a fair amount in case you are hurt.
This is a common mistake. What happens if there is a loss? Or if the item was never valued?
You don’t have to lose heart. But be ready to move quickly to submit your insurance claim! You should gather all the information you have about the lost jewellery, including any photos from your family. Next, contact a qualified jeweller to request a “post loss valuation”. This will allow the jeweller to take a photo of the item and create a detailed valuation certificate. This will ensure that your claim is not left open to unreasonable low valuations by insurance companies.
Insurance companies issuing ‘vouchers for replacement jewellery is one of the most frustrating things for claimants. This puts a severe restriction on the ability to find a replacement. How can an antique heirloom that is treasured be replaced in a high street jewellery shop owned by one of the large multiples, for example? It simply cannot. The Insurance Ombudsman has ruled that this is incorrect in principle. I am able to quote the Insurance Ombudsman bureau Report (1987, updated in 2003):Many times, I have seen cases where the claimant received better treatment after this ruling was pointed out to Insurance Companies that offered ‘vouchers. You should keep a copy of the ruling in case you ever need to refer to it.
With a little forethought, planning and some luck, you can avoid the frustration and distress that comes with losing jewellery. These simple steps will help to prevent most of the pain and provide a better replacement if the worst happens. Always seek professional advice if in doubt.