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Insuring and Protecting Your Collection

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Old 11-19-2009, 01:48 AM   #1
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Insuring and Protecting Your Collection

(original sources: Energon Pub • View topic - Terrorists are coming for your toys! (I ain't scared...) ; Insuring your collection..)

(Contributors: Counterpunch? (primary author); Homer (from Seibertron, "additional tweaks"); and Superquad7 (organizational and editing purposes. A special "thank you" to Nevermore for the additional proofreading.)

Insuring and Protecting Your Collection

Are you a responsible collector?

Hopefully you are! Often, things can still happen, no matter how well you safeguard your collection.

Let’s consider.

First off, we have to clear some people out of the room. Anyone whose collection isn’t just a bunch of things that they have, anyone who doesn’t mind loosing a piece or part, and anyone who doesn’t plan to keep and maintain a collection over a period of 5+ years, keep reading. If you’re the type of collector who isn’t the kind of person looking to preserve their collection as long as possible and in as good a condition as possible, get out.

Now that they’re out of here, we’ve got a lot of stuff to cover. Everything in existence is looking to destroy your toys. Sunlight, smoke, fire, theft, terrorists, oils from your hands, children, cats, dogs, and your mom are all conspiring somewhere on the best ways to destroy your impressive collection.


This guy hates you and your toys. Sunlight is known to cause yellowing, plastic degradation, and overall fading. If your toys receive direct sunlight you are damaging them, period. Test this. Get a figure you don’t care about, put him in a window for a month. After that time, take a look, the sun facing side will be noticeable lighter.

  • This happens quickly when it happens.
  • Plastic is the determining factor. Some plastics will fade/yellow quickly. Some will go slowly. Some will break down entirely and crack.
  • Heat and direct lamp light will cause the same things only at a slower rate. UV is destructive in any form.
  • Combined with oils from your hands, the process can happen more quickly or more seriously.
  • Oils from your hands alone on white plastic can cause this to happen.

What can you do?
  • Simply, keep your figures out of direct light, especially sun light.
  • Avoid other lighting for the toys when you aren’t around.


  • Very destructive to plastic and shows its effect in a short period of time

What can you do?
  • Smoke somewhere else.

Fire, theft, terrorists, children, cats, dogs, and your mom:

You’re out of luck.

What can you do?
  • Insure that collection! Do it now!
  • Total up what you’ve spent in toys.
  • Ask yourself if you could throw that much money in the garbage. If not?
  • Insure your collection!

3 Important points:
  • GET RENTER’S INSURANCE (or homeowner’s, but you should have that if you aren’t retarded and own a home anyways . . . .)!!! Renter’s insurance is CHEAP, as in, about 100 bucks a year for $30,000+ in coverage.
  • READ YOUR POLICY: Understand your coverage. Is it categorized? Are you limited to $1000 of collectable loss? What’s your deductable? Can your deductable be absorbed if you exceed categorical loss? How will you be paid?
  • YOUR TOYS ARE TOYS!!! Listen and listen good. Your toys are NOT “collectibles”. If you want to have an insurance company rip you off, go ahead and call them “collectibles”. Learn about how you’re exceeding your collection limit with Brave Maximus alone.

That being said, there is a lot more to cover and it is all important. You may be thinking at this point, “This is dumb. It’s unnecessary and ridiculous to insure a collection.” Well, a complete Alternator collection costs about $600 for retail value, give or take. Given that most Alts have doubled or in most cases tripled in value, it would cost you about $2000 to replace them all. Alts have been out over 5 years. An investment that triples in value over 3-4 years is a good investment. At least understand this before you dismiss the need to protect your money.

Insurance companies don’t want anything bad to happen to you (or your stuff). They also sincerely hope you’re stupid. Stupid people aren’t aware of what they have, what they will have, and the time/value of money. Insurance companies are placing bets that you are stupid, well, stupid and low-risk anyway.
  • Receipts. Receipts are good for ensuring that you get back the bare minimum value of your toys. Receipts are “proof” that you made a purchase. Start saving them. They’re helpful (though, they are NOT as helpful as you might think).
  • Pictures. Take lots of pictures. Put yourself in pictures with your collection. Go shelf by shelf, figure by figure if you like. Digital cameras are a blessing. Now, store those pictures in three (3) separate places
  • Document everything. Create an Excel spreadsheet listing your toys and their value, or find a friend who already has one. Surf the message board and find those who you can tell care a great deal about their investment, and contact them. Most people are glad to help by sharing a created spreadsheet even!

Let’s talk about value for a moment. This is something we argue about all the time here. Let’s use the 07’ Botcon box set as an example. Let’s say you bought your set at the con for $279, and that you lost your set due to fire or theft. If you wanted to get the toys back, what is it going to cost you?
  • $250 Thundercracker
  • $225 Thrust
  • $200 Dirge
  • $75 Dreadwind
  • $50 Bugbite

That $279 set just became $775 worth of toys. Your $279 is going to net you 2 figures out of the set. Congratulations on being stupid.
  • Know what your toys are worth.
  • Know what your toys are worth because the insurance companies aren’t going to.

Listen to this important piece of information now: Make sure your policy covers replacement value.

Listen to this important piece of information now: Make sure your policy covers replacement value.

Listen to this important piece of information now: Make sure your policy covers replacement value.

Did I stutter? No.

Listen to this important piece of information now: Make sure your policy covers replacement value.

Without replacement value for your toys, you’re going to get retail value or worse. The one problem with replacement value is this: If the insurance company can not determine the value of an item (and they won’t be able to do so for Transformers toys, especially vintage), they are going to accept your pricing and give you HALF of what you claim.

HALF. Got it?

The catch is, with your half of the money, you have to buy and replace the item, and then they pay you the difference. It’s their way of making sure that you aren’t scamming and that you are replacing your property (the point of insurance). Receipts are important here.

Depreciation, The Evil, Dirty Word.

The insurance company is going to ask how old your stuff is. They want to know so that they can devalue it. This will vary from company to company, policy to policy. Be careful with this. There is no sound advice to give other than to be smart. Find out what the depreciation time is for toys and make your determinations appropriately.

Concluding . . . .

You might already know this stuff. You really should know all this stuff already if you have a large collection. Really though, behind a house and car, it is entirely feasible for your toy collection to rival the dollar worth of your wife/girlfriend’s jewelry. You don’t have to plan to keep your toys forever, but an asset is an asset. Properly value is yours and one day if you decide to leave the hobby, you might have a small pile of money with which to walk out with.

If your collection is worth more than $1000, insure it. Most likely, you’re covered under an existing policy. The point as a responsible collector is to know; always be informed! It’s just as important to know how to make your claim and how to get your money as it is to know that you are insured. Make sure your toys are covered so that when something unexpected happens, you don’t even have to bat an eye in worry.

A sales manager for a large insurance agency says that this is all very sound advice. Insurance is very picky; you MUST know the ins and outs of your policy, as well as how to word statements when filing claims.

It also really helps to have an agent that is very comprehensive, and very willing to take the time to help you understand your policy.

[Just for additional tweaking (and reading):]

Different companies, in different states, have different rules, regulations, and guidelines that they adhere to. If you are going to take the time to buy a policy to cover your assets, please make sure that you know what is covered. You SHOULD have a policy regardless, but if you are getting a policy to cover your transformers specifically, you may be wasting your money (although covering everything else you own isn't necessarily a waste). A renter's policy covering $30k usually runs about $100 - $125 a year, as mentioned earlier.

Some examples that you may want to clarify with your agent include:
  • What perils are you insured against? An example would be that a homeowner's or renter's policy does not cover the peril of flood. You MUST buy a separate policy for flood for this to be covered. Flood is considered as rising water and/or storm surge. Keep in mind, you don't need to live near the coast to be flooded. Stats have shown that more flood claims are filed in non-coastal areas and counties than by the beach.
  • If you rent a house or an apartment, and your roommate has renter's insurance, guess what? NONE of YOUR collection is covered. That is your responsibility! Renter's insurance will only cover your items, and anyone living with you that is RELATED to you. If you live with a girlfriend (not wife), again, the insurance company has every right to deny your claim if it is your stuff that is stolen, and your girl is the policy holder.
  • Under your homeowner's or renter's policy, collectibles are indeed covered. You don't have to call them toys, it is safe to call them collectibles, but you cannot schedule them like you can jewelry, firearms, or artwork. HOWEVER, you MUST document what you have. Take lots (LOTS) of pictures, videotape, appraise, etc. everything you have. Receipts are great, too. Keep your documentation in a safety deposit box or a fire proof safe that cannot be easily moved. Document what the collection is, how it is cared for, stored, or handled, and its total value. Without this documentation, your renter's policy is pretty much useless for protecting your toy collections.
  • If you do not have this documentation, and you file a claim for, say, $8,000 in TOYS, the adjuster will laugh harder at you than the lady who checked you out at Toys R Us. You will NOT get anywhere near the money your collection is worth. Guaranteed.
  • If your collection is worth more than 10% of the total contents coverage on your policy, it would be very wise to increase your contents coverage, as again, you cannot schedule these items.

Some other things to consider that were mentioned earlier:
  • If you go through a broker (who shops among several companies), be prepared for impersonal customer service. Most brokers and independent agents pretty much release your policy to generic 800 numbers once they sell you the policy. So, if you have a question or would like to get really in-depth with your policy, you will more than likely be dealing with someone who makes $7 an hour and could care less about you or if you cancel your policy and you never get the same person twice. By going through an exclusive agent on the other hand, you get that personal and professional service, plus you always know who you will speak to when you dial their number. Those guys actually DO care about you, and want you to keep your policy with them for years, as that is how they make their money - on your renewals.
  • Also, be careful of some of these specialized companies, like Collectibles Insurance Companies. Make sure you do research and that these companies are "admitted" by your local state's Dept. of Insurance. If they are not, then it is very possible that company could deny your claim, as they are really not worried that your state may pull their appointment to do business in your state.

In brief:

Yes, renters insurance will cover your collection, IF you have pictures and documentation of 'what' and 'worth'.

NO, you should not call your toys "collectibles". "Collectibles" fall under their own limited category. Your collection may be worth $10k, but if your collectibles category only covers a max of $3k, you are out of luck. Toys, are toys unless your specific policy says otherwise. Most policies say collectibles are: cards, comics, and coins.

Also, separate policies are more often than not unnecessary. Cover things through your home or renters insurance.

Insurance is boring, but important. I hope this helps you guys. My fingers are cramping now.

Originally Posted by Dex17113
My insurance company (State Farm) only requires that I be able to prove I have an item (photo record) and prove the value by an appraisal, price guide, or something like that. My insurance guy had a line on a local guy that works with his sister. He does most of the antiques and such; he's an expert in toys. I also used a website that calculates valuations and such. All I had to do was catalogue my collection.

Much to my surprise, the website, appraiser, and my valuation from price guides and such was all within a couple of hundred dollars of each other. To be honest, since my insurance agent hooked me up, I only paid about half attention to who the appraiser was. I recognized him from different toys shows I've been to and such. He REALLY knew his stuff, especially considering that my collection is so varied. I have everything from Star Wars to Transformers to Masters of the Universe to MASK . . . the list goes on and on.

A few things didn't make the appraisal because I couldn't find valid prices anywhere and the appraiser was at a loss, namely my collection of Lazer Tag stuff. There's a market for it, but finding someone who knows what that market will permit for? Yeah, [that’s] not so easy.

It cost me $250 to have the collection appraised, but given the size of my collection I didn't think that was bad.

So far as Pawn Stars* goes, those guys really know what they are doing, but people have to remember they aren't a collectible shop. If you need quick cash or a loan against collateral, you go to them. If you want the best price possible on a high-end collection of item, you go to an auction house.

*Note: Pawn Stars reference:

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Last edited by Superquad7; 03-22-2015 at 01:37 AM..
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