Hiding your valuables


The average home burglary is a hit and run affair – burglars generally spend 8 to 12 minutes ransacking a home to find cash and valuables. Experts say that bedrooms are one of the first places checked – in bedside tables, in bureaus, and under the mattress. Bathrooms and kitchens are a high search target – often burglars are looking for drugs or money hidden in the “sugar bowl.” Also, home offices and desks are often the place where safes or valuable documents are kept.

Deadbolt locks, lights and alarms are all good deterrents. You should also take precautions before going on a trip. Plus, if you have any prized or valuable collections, make sure you tell your agent and talk over a rider to your homeowners policy to ensure they are covered should your security measures fail.

All that being said, we enjoyed some of the ideas presented in 8 Secret Spots to Hide Valuables at Home. We particularly liked the “Head of Iceberg Lettuce Safe” pictured above which is linked in the article. This is an unusual version of what are often called diversion safes – common household objects either hollowed out or with hidden compartments.

This article reminded us of some creative ways to camouflage your laptop if you worry about theft at the airport or the coffee shop.

Laptop Pizza Box disguise

How to make a laptop sleeve from a FedEx envelope

Make your Macbook a classic

Cupid urges you to Insure Your Love

Every February, The LifeFoundation runs a promotion called “Insure Your Love” which reminds the public that a good way to show you love somebody is to protect them via the gift of life insurance. Here are a few wacky videos from the nonprofit’s past promotions. If you are a traditionalist about Valentine’s Day gifts and choose to buy jewelry or some other expensive item, make sure you insure those, too!

Canadian Dentist Adds Crowning Touch to His Collection

According to NPR, a dentist from Alberta, Canada, recently paid $10,000 for a dental crown that once belonged to Elvis Presley. His collection, which has pride of place in his waiting room, also includes a rotten tooth that was extracted from John Lennon. The curious can view a photo of the Preseley’s dental model and spare crown, which he kept for “insurance” in case he cracked or broke the one in his mouth.

Michael Zuk, the dentist in question, is just one of many collectors across the globe. There are any number of strange collections on view on the internet – unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find one that didn’t include Graham Barker’s navel fluff collection, so proceed at your own risk. Before you scoff, however, remember that many museums began as private collections: the Victorians, in particular, were obsessive collectors of all manner of things.

Collecting things seems to be a common thread for most human beings. It starts in childhood: most kids have a collection of one thing or another, ranging from rocks to bugs (spare a moment to pity the poor mother of the intrepid budding entomologist) at some point during their youth. You may have a collection of your own. Many of us, in a trend that spans centuries, bring home spoons or shot glasses or other souvenirs of our travels. I myself have a cabinet full of emblazoned coffee mugs from such exotic locales as Zoo Atlanta. Well, they have pandas.

Collections are not without risk. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, in the charming 1953 comedy The Long Long Trailer, nearly have their honeymoon derailed by Lucy’s rock collection. Rocks on the open road are an unlikely danger, but unfortunately, collections can be lost in other, more mundane ways, such as fire or theft. If you have a collection that you value, talk over insurance coverage options with your independent insurance agent and make sure it’s covered on your homeowners or renters policy. After all, today’s stamp album can turn out to be tomorrow’s retirement fund.

Valentine’s Day: Stolen hearts are one thing, but stolen jewelry is no fun

Valentine’s Day is a tradition going back to 496 A.D, with its actual origins tracing back to St. Valentine’s execution 269 AD for marrying couples against the mandate of the Roman Emperor. Since then, Valentine’s Day has become a gold mine for retailers. According to the US Census Bureau, jewelry stores sold $2.27 billion in merchandise in February 2011. While that number might seem staggering, the National Retail Federation is expecting jewelry sales to hit $4.1 billion this year. Their survey results show that over eight in ten men are expected to buy jewelry for their significant other this year, the highest amount their survey has ever reported, leading to the purchase of lots of expensive jewelry that could easily become lost or stolen.
Contributing to “the big spend” is the fact that Valentine’s Day is the third most popular time for couples to get engaged, lagging behind only Christmas and New Years. According to a survey conducted by Bride’s Magazine last year, the average cost of a wedding ring is $4,647. In today’s tough economic times that would not be easy to replace, nor would any of the other lavish gifts couples buy this time of year.
Jewelry is popular with thieves
If you do splurge for the holiday, or have a lot of expensive jewelry lying around already, it might not be a bad idea to investigate your insurance options. Most burglars are looking for accessible items of value that can be easily transported, making jewelry a prime target since items are often left out or kept in easy-to-grab jewelry boxes. The Insurance Information Institute offers the warning that jewelry and other expensive gifts may only have minimal coverage under standard homeowners insurance policies and offers tips for how to properly insure your valuables.

Make sure your expensive gifts are protected – insure those valuables!

Was Santa good to you over the holidays? If you received any valuable gifts, you may want to review your insurance coverage to make sure that these items are adequately protected in the event of a loss. Standard homeowners, renters and condominium insurance policies will generally cover personal items, but policies often have limits of $1,000 to $2,000 on the dollar amount for certain valuables. You may also want to check your deductibles. It’s a good idea to review your policy to be sure of the extent of your coverage and to check with your insurance agent if you have any questions or doubts. You may want to add an endorsement (also called a rider) to give you additional coverage for valuable possessions.
Here’s a list of some potentially high-value items that you may want to consider for additional coverage:

  • Expensive jewelry and precious stones
  • Original art and custom or handcrafted items
  • Musical instruments
  • Antiques and heirlooms
  • Crystal, china, silverware
  • Furs
  • Collectibles and special collections
  • Computer equipment

It’s a good practice to keep a home inventory and to update it periodically. The Insurance Information Institute offers guidance on taking a home inventory, along with free downloadable home inventory software. The inventory is stored on your computer but it’s a good idea to keep a back-up copy in a safe location on a CD or a portable flash memory stick.
Additional reading
Insurance Information Institute: Jewelry and Other Expensive Gifts May Require Special insurance Coverage
South Carolina’s Insurance News Service: Insuring Gifts This Holiday Season.
FiLife: Valuables Insurance Guide: The Basics