Every now and then you hear about an extensive record collection being damaged by flooding or fire. Who doesn’t remember Q-Tip‘s unreleased songs and record collection going up in flames in a 1998 house fire? It was all over the news.
And only last year, Wellington DJ Danny Lemon‘s extensive record collection was completely destroyed after an arsonist set fire to the storing facility where he stored a life time of collecting: about 8500 records, collected over 35 years, and boxes and boxes of cassette tapes with compilations and radio shows waiting to be archived.
Of course there are worse things that can happen, but losing the collection you have built up over so many years can be devastating. It is obvious that it will be nearly impossible to replace rare items, and those not so rare items which have special memories attached to them, because they were given to you by someone special, can possibly not be replaced at all.
Insuring your record collection will not get back the items lost, but it could give you some means to start rebuilding it.
But how do you go about insuring your record collection? And what does an insurer need from you?
To keep it simple, we’ll refer to household insurance in this article. (By household insurance, we mean the standard insurance that covers ‘personal property and contents’. Depending on your country of residence it could also be called home owners/renters insurance etc).
There are two things to start with:
- Check if your current household insurance covers the value of your collection.
Usually, a record collection is covered by your household insurance, as long as it doesn’t exceed a certain value. Especially when you started out with a small collection, but now have a bigger collection, you’d want to check if everything is still covered. If not, you could either get extended coverage on your household insurance, or consider a different type of insurance.
- Find out exactly what your existing insurance is covering. Standard household insurance usually covers a standard amount per record (which might be lower than you’d expect!), regardless whether you purchased it for next to nothing or whether it cost you a small fortune. Sometimes if they do not cover a flat rate per item, they cover up to a maximum amount per item. So double check if that covers the value of the valuable items in your collection.
If you have a large collection and/or many valuable records, it could be a better option to get a separate policy, specifically for your collection. Shop around a bit: Talk to your insurance provider and get quotes from insurers specialized in collections to find one suitable for your needs.
Once you have figured out what kind of insurance is suitable for your collection, you will need to find out what the insurance needs from you: Do they accept an estimate of the value of your collection? Do they need photos? Or a video of you flipping through your records? Will they send a surveyor to your house? Some insurers will accept an itemized list as ‘proof’ of the contents and value of your collection. Some will ask for it up front, some will only need to see it when a claim is made.
Now here’s where we might be able to help:
By documenting your collection online, you can access your collection from any computer or mobile device. If you have documented your collection on Discogs, you can export a file with all the items in your collection. Currently, the value fields themselves are not (yet) exported in the collection file, but by logging into your account and clicking the Text With Statistics button you can always see the current estimated value of your collection (based on the last 10 sales on Discogs – using the Marketplace Sales History. If no sales history is available, then those items are not included in the estimated value). Check with your insurer if that is sufficient for them.
Of course we all hope that you will never need to use any of this information. It’s still worth registering your collection on Discogs though, as it allows you to check your collection on the go. I should check it myself the next time I go digging, as it will surely prevent me from accidentally bringing home the 3rd copy of The Way It Is. :)
Find more information on how to document your collection on Discogs here.