Jewellery Insurance - What you need to know

We can't keep our jewellery under guard all the time, so having things in place in the event of something going wrong gives peace of mind.

(This article is a rework of an older piece I wrote because the insurance brokerage in that has been absorbed into a bigger company)

Whenever I deliver a finished piece of jewellery to my client - there is always one point I stress;

As soon as your jewellery is in your posession, it becomes YOUR liability.

This means that if you leave it on a train, or drop it in the river, or your bag is pick-pocketed, or it gets run over by a mad elephant - basically if lost, stolen or damaged beyond repair it is your financial responsibility. Dependent on what the item of jewellery is, this could be a few hundred, to a few hundred thousand pounds.

I make jewellery to be worn and loved, and when something is worn and loved, and when something happens it's normally pretty distressing. I've had clients lose a piece, or slam their ring in the car door, or get broken in to. While there will always be the ache if the piece is an old remodelled heirloom, at least there is a comfort that you are at least covered for it. But it's amazing how many people assume the piece is covered on the £200 a year household policy. I know several stories where people have lost treasured items, and either forgot to add it to their policy, or assumed it would be covered, and it wasn’t.  It often feels like rubbing a big piece of salt into what is already a painful wound.

What if your earrings are no longer where you left them when you come back?

If you have invested time and money in finding that special piece of jewellery, it is worth making sure you protect it properly

Jewellery insurance shouldn't be tricky to arrange, and it also shouldn't be tricky if a payout is required. You aren't going to have to donate an organ to arrange it. And yes, it does seem a bit like potentially paying an insurance company when you have never lost or damanged anything is just money for old rope. However, I have personally found to my bitter experience, that when something goes wrong and you haven't picked the right policy (or indeed any policy) you either have to spend thousands to get the piece again, or you don't ever have the piece again.

Here is my guide to getting the best out of your jewellery insurance policy.

Hands holding diamond engagement ring on table
You saved long and hard for that engagement ring, in the event it went missing how would you replace it?

Start with having a good home insurance policy

This is always my default recommendation. It’s normally cheaper overall and easier to insure your jewellery through a comprehensive home policy rather than stand-alone. Some offer specialist jewellery policies as part of the offering which is best of all.

Just remember Not All Household Insurance Policies are The Same. Always check with the insurance broker what they are offering.  You should be able to add an inventory of your higher value items (i.e. a lot of policies want details of each piece over £1,500 in value) to your policy. Good insurers will generally want a valuation of some description as well.

If your household policy doesn't cover jewellery properly, but has just been renewed etc then I would then suggest going down a jewellery insurance (or other specialist) route. Yes, is an extra premium, but the cover is always more comprehensive, and you may need to do it for a year while you shop around for a policy that is going to cover you and your precious items.

What to look for in your jewellery insurance policy;

  1. You want New for Old. It is a sneaky offering that insurers do which is to say 'Like for Like. This means if your pendant is 5 years old, they are going to treat it as a second hand item. You don’t want to be offered £500 towards your £1,000 earrings because the insurer is arguing that you need to find a second hand pair. You just want the earrings replaced. OK, if it is an out of circulation Tiffany bracelet, second hand may be your only option. A good insurer will help you determine this.
  2. You want choice of jeweller for replacement. Here's what some insurers will do, they have a supplier list of companies who in return for the insurance business will pay the insurer 10% of the claim value. So adding insult to injury with the earrings mentioned in point 1 - now you can’t even have them replaced at the store you purchased them from because they aren't on the list!  So make sure you are clear what the replacement policy is, and what it covers.
  3. If you travel, make sure you have "All Risks Worldwide". This ensures you’re covered wherever you are in the world against all risks, which includes Accidental Damage, Loss and Theft.  If you are planning on proposing overseas, this is particularly important.  Not all policies offer this, so again, check and ask.
  4. Make sure that you have a sensible coverage for useage for the item. A key annoyance for one of my clients was when the insurer has said that the jewellery is only covered on the hand, or in a safe - not much use if you've left your wedding rings on the side for half an hour while you popped out and somebody broke in.. That sort of policy is only helpful if the jewellery is for special occasions, not general wear.
  5. Check that the Claims Excess is not excessive (pardon the pun!). Some premiums are more expensive with lower or no excess to pay, some premiums cost less but the excess outstrips the item of jewellery you are trying to cover. You should be able to choose the excess, make sure you are clear on this.

Make sure your jewellery is regularly valued

Sterling value influences material costs, as everything from metals to gemstones is traded in dollars. That means jewellery prices can go up as well as down. With this in mind, make sure your jewellery is valued every 2-3 years and notify your insurers as prices can fluctuate quite considerably.

The other benefit of keeping a valuation on your jewellery is that you have a specific dossier on your jewellery item in case your insurer promises a full replacement, and then fudges an item. I had one client who's insurer had sent her off to a Hatton Garden workshop, who replaced her lost orange diamond with a blue sapphire and told her that orange diamonds don't exist! She wasn't with a good insurer and they didn't support her, basically I think they were trying to pay out as little as possible.

Read more about valuations here

Check your jewellery clasps and stone settings for wear and tear

The two main reasons to claim for jewellery are total loss, or loss of a jewel from a setting, so make sure the clasps and settings are checked every 2-3 years by a qualified jeweller. This is sometimes made a requirement by insurers for particularly valuable stones.  If you are wearing the piece every day, this is really important as precious metals are still not indestructible.  Regular checks will ensure your pieces are secure.

Make sure you have good household security in place

Burglar alarms are a major deterrent for would be criminals these days, as are all the decent locks and catches you'd expect. When I moved into my first flat many moons ago, I was broken into 4 days later (I learned it was a standard practice if someone had seen you moving in, because all the noise and banging of a move meant that the neighbours don't associate additional noise as something sinister!). Making life as difficult as possible for thieves means that like the playground bully, they will look for softer targets. Taking 10 minutes to kick a door down, or get through a window is not what a burglar likes to be faced with as that is longer than it could take for the police to show up.. You will feel safer too.

A safe doesn't have to be huge, and keeping a policeman inside it is optional.

For large collections of jewellery, or a particularly valuable piece, good insurers will require the home to be secured with a burglar alarm and/or for a cash rated safe installed in the property. Some Insurers apply discounts for better physical security measures, therefore it is good practise to invest in appropriate household security, not least because having a break-in is a NIGHTMARE.  

Even though it's more likely you aren’t housing the Crown Jewels, it does pay to keep your jewellery in a secure place, and not necessarily one that a burglar would immediately find (hint : they will check the bedroom and study first!).  And get used to putting your pieces away when you aren’t wearing them.

Final Thoughts

If you’re insuring an important, expensive piece of jewellery you really need to get the best advice possible. A good insurance broker will have exclusive access to comprehensive insurers that include cover for valuable items such as jewellery and watches, along with engagement rings and diamonds under the valuables section, unlike standard market policies such as those found on comparison sites.

The only way to be certain is to ask a real person a lot of questions, and ensure the you have a definite answer about what happens if something is damaged, lost or stolen including replacement value and options, so you can take an informed decision.  Make sure you have it all in writing too.  I would stress, do not leave your jewellery insurance cover until something has happened, it becomes much more expensive at this point and emotionally far more painful!

If you would like to speak to a specialist jewellery insurer - let me know as I'd be happy to recommend the company I use. But start with your home insurers..

What about when the worst happens? Have a look at our advice on when if jewellery has been stolen (it's still worth a read even if it hasn't).

No items found.

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for?

If you are looking for something not covered by our services just get in touch. We’ll be able to answer your question right away and our first conversation won't cost you anything.