How to choose the perfect appraiser for your property, art, antiques, jewelry, and other valuables

appraiserIf you have highly valuable, treasured property or possessions, you may need to get them appraised for insurance purposes. Many insurance carriers will insist on accurate valuation of property, art, antiques, jewelry, and other items so they can ensure the correct level of coverage and premium payment.

When you’re seeking out a good appraiser, here are some areas to consider:

Talk to your friends and colleagues

If you know other people who need to insure high-value items, talk to them about their experiences. Get recommendations on good appraisers and create a shortlist.

Look at professional qualifications

There are a variety of professional accreditations and qualifications depending on the fields an appraiser trains in. These include:

  • International Society of Appraiser’s credentials for fine art, antiques, and personal property.
  • A diploma in gemology for jewelry appraisal.
  • Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice exam for members of the American Society of Appraisers.
  • Principles of Valuation courses for members of the American Society of Appraisers.
  • Property appraisers should have one of the following designations from the Appraisal Institute — MAI Designation, SRPA Designation, SRA Designation, AI-GRS Designation, AI-RRS Designation.

There are various other exams and certifications available. Always check an appraiser’s qualifications to ensure they’re qualified to provide expert advice.

Check if they’re members of professional appraiser organizations

There are several industry bodies for appraisers. They include:

Many of these websites have membership directories for their appraisers.

Professional appraisers are required to uphold a strong code of ethics, including:

  • Providing truly independent valuation services, with no external influences.
  • Have no outside interest in the valued item, other than as providing a professional service.
  • Only carry out appraisal work in their area of expertise.
  • Consider all relevant factors when arriving at a valuation.
  • Treat and document property with the right level of care and respect.
  • Ensure personal remuneration and pay is independent of the value of property being appraised.

Interview your shortlist

When you have a shortlist of appraisers, call each one and ask questions about their area of expertise, qualifications, professional standards, and membership of industry bodies. Get a feel for what each appraiser is like and use that to decide which one would be right for your needs.

Remember that valuations change with time, many carriers will require updated valuations on a regular basis.

As always, if you have any questions about your scheduled property or how to get your property appraised, we are a phone call away!

Mary McGrath
Personal Lines Manager


Fall Cleaning and Pre-Winterization

Fall Cleaning and Pre-WinterizationThe leaves begin to turn and a chill appears in the air; that’s our cue to pack up the summer gear, bust out the jackets and umbrellas, and get moving on the fall cleaning. Autumn is also the time to do some critical maintenance around the house and put some efficient (and money saving) pre-winterization measures in place. With a dedicated weekend and a solid plan, you can make the transition into the colder season a very smooth and painless one.

Here’s the plan:

I approach fall cleaning with a long-term strategy in mind. The plan is to close down summer, get ready for fall, and lay the ground work for winter. We’re not preparing for sub zero temperatures and 4 feet of snow just yet, but the coming months will bring rain, chilly days and even colder nights.  So let’s get ready for it.

First things first;

Basic Fall Cleaning

The first step in preparing for fall is cleaning up after summer. Here are some of the basic cleaning tasks that should be part of your fall cleaning routine:

  • Wash the windows (inside and out)
  • Remove and deep clean the window treatments
  • Clean walls and fixtures
  • Clean ceiling and light fixtures
  • Clean carpets as needed (muddy season is coming so it’s best to start fresh)
  • Clean baseboard heaters if you have them (soon you’ll be turning on the heat)
  • Clean the patio furniture and if you have a deck, clean it really well (we’ll talk more about the deck later)

How deep you go with your cleaning depends on what the summer handed you and how well you cleaned back in spring. If you feel the need to go deeper, you can find some great fall cleaning checklists online to get inspired. 

Once you have the cleaning done, the next step is getting your home prepped for wind, rain, and chill.

Essentials for Pre-Winterizing Your Home

It’s not the deep freeze, but it’s the big chill (along with some rain, mud, and possibly a little sleet). So in order to get ready, do some routine maintenance and periodic checks on things around the house. When the freeze hits, you’ll be happy you did so.

Here’s a list of essentials:

Clean the gutters: Leaves will be falling soon so make sure you don’t start behind the 8-ball.

Inspect the roof: While you’re up there cleaning the gutters take a look for loose or missing shingles. Also pop up in the attic during the day so you can see if any sunlight is creeping in through potential gaps or cracks in the roof.

 Replace the filter in the furnace: You want the heat to actually come on and be warm the first time you need it, so check for proper operation of the furnace and thermostat. Here are some gas furnace maintenance tips and some oil furnace maintenance tips to help you out.

Check the fireplace: Check for proper flue operation and for any obstructions in the chimney. If you used your fireplace frequently last season, call in a professional chimney sweep to get your chimney cleaned out and ready for the season.

Check your smoke and Co2 detectors: Make sure alarms are working and replace batteries as needed.

Check for drafts: Check doors and windows throughout the house for gaps that can let heat out and let in cool air in. That’s money in heating bills going literally out the window. It’s best to catch those drafts now so you have plenty of time to seal them up before it gets really cold. Here are some tips for checking the house for drafts

Clean out the clothes dryer vent: This one is often overlooked but lint regularly accumulates in the vent hose leading from the dryer to the outdoors. If the hose gets clogged it can be a fire hazard, and a clogged dryer vent can also significantly inhibit the performance of your dryer causing it to work overtime, which in turn will drive up your energy bill.

 Autumn in New England; It’s a great time to throw a log on the fire, warm up a hot cider and enjoy a good book as the leaves fall outside your living room window. Sounds beautiful, but fall is also a time that can bring clogged gutters, drafty houses, and leaky roofs. It’s kind of a buzz kill I know, but I want you to be prepared. That’s what we do at Sinclair, we think forward and we create strategies to take on the challenges that lie ahead.

Check out our Homeowners Insurance for total piece of mind coverage and in the meantime, put your fall cleaning and pre-winterization strategy in action now and you’ll be totally freed up later to sit back and enjoy the finer points of the season.

Mary McGrath
Personal Lines Manager

Fall Cleaning and Pre-Winterization

Auto Insurance: Why You Need a Specialty Policy for Your Collector Car

Exotic Car Insurance Why Do Exotic Autos Need Specialized InsuranceCollector cars aren’t used like typical vehicles. They’re often driven less and cared for better. They don’t commute to work, but they spend weekends parked at car shows. You need a collector car auto insurance policy that meets those specific needs.

Many collectors in the United States make the mistake of insuring their collector vehicles through big-name insurance companies. This costs them more and fails to provide adequate coverage. Specialty insurance policies provide significant advantages for collector cars.

Your collector car isn’t like the standard models

When you sign up for traditional insurance, you select a few options from basic categories like make, model, and condition. But that doesn’t tell the whole story of a collector car.

Collector vehicles (and exotic cars) are tricky to value. They may have a list of improvements, modifications and custom parts. A specialty insurer has to ask about what’s been modified, how much has been invested, the parts that are used, etc. Keep detailed information and receipts so your insurer can put together the right policy for you.

Specialty coverage is usually less expensive

You don’t drive your collector vehicle every day. It probably sits in the garage for weeks at a time, only taken out for the occasional drive or car show. So you shouldn’t pay typical insurance rates.

Insurance for collector cars is often far cheaper than standard commuter insurance. For example, the price of a policy for a 60s Mustang (which includes physical damage, comprehensive and collision) may only cost a couple hundred dollars.

Furthermore, bulk pricing is available for collectors with large collections including instant coverage when you buy a new vehicle.

Designed for low mileage use

Most specialty collector insurance carriers will not restrict how many miles you can drive your car each year but they aren’t looking to insure classic cars that are driven daily. Average mileage for these cars is between 2000-3000 miles per year – including car shows and events. If you do drive your car daily, high net worth carriers such as Chubb will insure your vehicle but the cost will be reflective of the use.

Collector car insurance uses the Agreed Value

Automobile insurance comes in three varieties:

  • Actual Cash Value: This is the depreciated book value that you would find in a source like Kelly Blue Book. Older cars with more miles and in poorer conditions are worth less. This is how a majority of cars are insured.
  • Stated Value: This is for collectibles. The insurer allows you state the value of the car that’s greater than the depreciated value. But the car still can depreciate, so you might get less than you expect in a claim.
  • Agreed Value: This type of insurance lets you state the vehicle’s value and guarantees you’ll get the full value of your policy in a claim. There’s no depreciation.

Collector cars are hard to price. They don’t have a clear market value. They also often appreciate in value. This means you always want to buy a policy that’s written with an Agreed Value so you’re paid accordingly should something happen. Coverage is also in effect for the full 12 months of the year, so there is no need to call and suspend coverage during the Winter months.

Don’t limit yourself to traditional insurance policies. Speak with us about insuring your collector or exotic car.

Mary McGrath
Personal Lines Manager

Mary McGrath Personal Lines Account Executive

Are You Protecting Your Invaluable Collections?

How to Insure Valuables Fine Art, Wine, Jewelry & MoreOver the years, you may have developed a knowledge and love of wine and picked up a few special bottles, which turned into a few more and, before you knew it, you had an extensive – and expensive – wine collection.  What would happen if there was a flood in your home or you experienced a power outage that impacted your temperature-controlled cedar wine cellar? 

From wine to art to fine jewelry to exotic cars and yachts, many people fail to recognize these items that they enjoy for their aesthetic or leisurely qualities as the valuable investments they truly are and therefore, don’t properly protect them.   

Additionally, as people do estate planning, they also often overlook outlining their plans for these non-traditional valuables, like an antique jewelry collection or Bentley.

Here are five tips to ensure you properly protect your collections:

  • Secure Specialized and Periodic Appraisals: Make sure the person appraising your items has   expertise in your type of collectible so you get the most accurate appraisalRe-appraise your collectibles every two to three years and make sure you share them with your financial advisor, insurance company, tax attorney and estate planner so they can understand the value of your collection and the potential risks and benefits within your overall portfolio as well as any implications to your charitable giving wishes or estate planning.
  • Keep a Detailed Inventory: Document your collectibles, where and when they were purchased and for how much.  Update every time a new item is added to the collection and ensure there’s a complete, properly appraised inventory at all times as well as information on where certificates of authenticity are housed.
  • Assemble a Smart and Specialized Advisory Team Early: Work with an insurance firm, financial planner, tax attorney and estate planner who have expertise protecting and planning for the issues associated with these non-traditional investments.  It’s important to do this early, as your collection could have implications on your overall wealth, taxes and estate plans as it grows or diminishes in value.
  • Properly Insure your Collectibles: Make sure you choose an insurance company with expertise in providing coverage for your unique collection and coverage options that would truly account for their value.   These prized collections often mistakenly get tacked onto an existing homeowner’s insurance policy with very limited coverage that would never provide the value they truly hold if they needed to be replaced.
  • Make an Early Succession Plan: Whether you want to hand down your fine art collection to your son, donate it to a museum or have it auctioned off for charity, be sure to work with your team to detail your plans and to get their input on how to properly include them in your estate planning. 

By treating your collectibles like your other assets, you can enjoy your passions and ensure their potential returns and risks are managed and that they’re properly protected.  This will allow you – and your loved ones –to enjoy your collections now and in the future.

Mary McGrath

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

Mary McGrath