The art of insuring the irreplaceable

Each year, valuable art, collectibles, and jewellery are stolen, causing losses for collectors, and individual homeowners. These items often hold both sentimental and financial value, having been purchased as investments or inherited heirlooms. 

In South Africa, these thefts primarily occur incidentally, where valuable collector’s items are stolen alongside other belongings during a burglary. Determining the value of irreplaceable items such as family heirlooms, artwork, and custom-made items can be challenging. Securing insurance for such valuable possessions requires specialised coverage. 

When insuring valuable items, what do you need to look out for

In many cases, clients lack comprehensive information about the nature and value of their items. There is often a significant disparity between the client’s perceived worth of an artwork or collectible and its actual value. To ensure an accurate assessment and bridge the gap, it is essential to obtain trustworthy valuations from the outset and keep record of these in an easily accessible place such as your life file.

Most insurance companies require you to list anything and everything. If it has any value, no matter how little, they may insist that it be included in your inventory and it can hurt your claim if you have been overly selective. Some insurers may allow you to exclude sentimental items of little monetary value, but you should always double-check with your insurer’s policy.  

It is crucial to carefully review the details in your insurance policy to understand the compensation process in the event of a loss. In the past, many insurers would assess the situation, subtract the excess, and provide a cash payout. However, modern policies often incorporate a provision that grants the insurer the option to “repair, replace, or provide cash” for the item. To maintain competitiveness in pricing, many major general insurers now lean towards replacing a lost or stolen item, often through a preferred supplier with whom they have a trade agreement.

What items should be included?

Your jewellery holds immense value to you, not just due to its monetary worth but also because these cherished items often carry a personal story intertwined with your life. An engagement ring, in particular, stands as one of the most prized possessions for many individuals, but you may possess other pieces that hold deep sentimental attachments. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the frequent robberies targeting jewellery stores in upscale shopping malls, high-quality jewellery is a prime target for criminals. Due to its compact size, it can be easily concealed, making it a desirable target for theft.  

To insure a ring adequately, it would typically require inclusion in an all-risks policy, which is commonly associated with your household contents policy. The all-risks section would provide coverage for the ring while you wear it outside your home as well as when it’s kept off your finger at home. Furthermore, a ring would need to be specified and listed as a separate insured item under the policy, resulting in a separate monthly premium. This would contribute to an overall increase in your premium amount.

Apart from jewellery, it is recommended to have your art pieces appraised as well. However, it’s important to understand that certain items, like a painting that holds sentimental value to your family and has been in your possession for decades, may not be replaceable in practical terms.. In such cases, the emotional loss outweighs the replacement cost. It’s worth noting that objectively valuing sentimental items can be a challenging task. Consider handmade artworks crafted with love by your great-grandfather, brought over from Holland. How does one assign a monetary value to something so deeply meaningful? It’s worth to you and how others perceive its value may differ significantly.

In conclusion, insuring valuable and irreplaceable items requires careful consideration and specialised coverage. It’s important to find the right partner who can meticulously assess your requirements, and who can customise a bespoke insurance package that aligns with your specific needs, lifestyle and valuable assets.  

About Signature 

With Signature, you’ll receive an all-in-one bespoke insurance solution tailored to your unique needs. Our flexible coverage options ensure that everything you value, from your luxury cars to your homes and their contents, is protected.  

Premium benefits:

  • Preferential, competitive premiums
  • Highly competitive product with higher limits to accommodate your personal needs
  • Assets Out (All Risk) cover – no need to specify individual items
  • No excess if you are over 55
  • A hassle-free claims process. We don’t do call centers and neither should you.
  • Membership of the RBS Signature Assist Programme, which provides emergency roadside, medical and home assistance
  • Chauffeur drive benefits and car hire services so you’re never left stranded
  • Includes a free onsite valuation of your primary property and assets to ensure you are correctly insured.

Visit to find out how you can protect your highly prized possessions.  New clients choosing to sign up before the end of August 2023, and get your first two months on us plus will stand a chance to win up to R100 000 worth of insurance premiums.  Find out if you qualify. 

Terms and conditions apply.