How do you replace a World Series ring? The 5 rules for valuing collectibles

John Sterling, the well-known radio play-by-play announcer of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees since 1989, is asking himself this month how to replace five World Series rings, not just one.

Sterling was one of the most prominent residents of Avalon at Edgewater, a luxury apartment complex in Edgewater, N.J. On Jan. 21, he and 500 of his fellow residents watched in horror as their apartments and all their belongings were destroyed by a massive fire.

Appearing on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN radio, as reported by Newsday, Sterling said that he is “very fortunate” that he can afford to replace his household goods. Among the losses Sterling said he suffered were all of his World Series rings other than the one from 2009, which he was wearing when he evacuated the building, his 12 Emmy Awards, and pictures of relatives and celebrities, including those of himself with Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush.

 Although most claims haven’t been made public, it’s reasonable to assume that many of the tenants had some collectibles, and they’ll now be making claims on their insurance. How much they stand to collect depends on their individual policies and whether they’ve scheduled those collectibles, says Christian Trabue, a member of the Appraisers Association of America and a review appraiser for Enservio, a provider of software and services to property insurers.

Trabue provides the following five tips on how to properly value your collectibles before a loss.

 

Sketch of house showing rooms and contents

 

1. Start with a detailed inventory.

Trabue advises taking pictures of all your possessions to create a household inventory.

“Open closets and drawers,” she says. It can be difficult to remember all your household items, including sheets, towels, clothes—even the food in your refrigerator—after a catastrophe.

For collectibles, the photos should be detailed close-ups, showing the artist’s signature if there is one, as well as showing the back of the item. If the item is part of a collection—several sculptures by the same sculptor, for example—be sure to show the collection as a whole.

Trabue explains that after a catastropic loss, she sits down with clients and has them close their eyes to picture what each room looks like, asking such questions as, “How many paintings were in your living room? Who was the artist?” You’ll be able to answer those questions more efficiently if you have the photos.

 

Computer with storage device

 

2. Back up your inventory on a storage device.

You should make an extra copy of the inventory to store away from the premises, Trabue advises. In addition to putting the device in a safe deposit box or sending it to a relative in another location, she also advises storing the information “in the cloud” on a site like Dropbox or iCloud.

“As long as you have Internet access, you’ll be able to retrieve your pictures,” she says. With the back-up information on an external storage device, you’ll also have the information in case you can’t access the Internet for some reason.

 

Multi-year wall calendar

 

3. Update the inventory every five years.

Trabue recommends that you update your inventory at least every five years, more often if you buy or sell a collectible to ensure that the list is current. You don’t necessarily have to update the value, which may fluctuate.

“The worst year for collectibles was 2008,” she says, “but the market for collectibles is on the upswing.”

 

Home insurance policy with eyeglasses

 

4. Have the correct insurance coverage in place.

Your coverage should include a schedule for high-value items and collectibles at retail replacement value. Trabue notes that there are many sources for valuing unusual items, including auction sites and specialized dealers.

For example, there are people who deal in championship rings, and they would provide a value for Sterling’s World Series rings based on “like kind and quality.” She also observes that the value of the ring may vary depending on who owns it.

“Generally, the ring’s value is higher if it’s owned by a star player than if it’s owned by a member of the winning team’s staff,” she explains.

 

Artist's hand restoring icon

 

5. Understand the difference between replacement and restoration.

Trabue explains that, depending on the terms of your policy and whether the item was scheduled, your carrier may weigh the price of restoration and any diminution in value against the cost of replacement. If a painting is damaged by smoke or water during a fire, for instance, it might be possible to clean the painting without any loss in value.

Talk to your agent, broker or carrier about your homeowners or tenant’s policy sooner rather than later, Trabue advises. They’ll help you determine the best way to insure your household goods from the most expensive collectible to the least expensive kitchen spatula.

 

Feb 11, 2015 | By Rosalie L. Donlon

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