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Personal Property Insurance: What You Need to Know

Posted by Audrey Breneman on May 29, 2024 12:34:42 PM

When protecting your belongings, understanding the details of personal property insurance is crucial. Many homeowners assume their standard home insurance policy has them fully covered, but the nuances of personal property coverage can significantly affect how well you're protected. Without fully understanding how this coverage works and what is automatically covered, you could unknowingly be putting your assets at risk. This guide will cover what constitutes personal property and the perils covered, the differences between Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Cost Value (RCV), the distinction between covered and scheduled property, and the importance of regular policy reviews.

What is Personal Property?

Personal property encompasses all movable items within your home. This includes furniture, electronics, clothing, and appliances. If you can pick it up and take it with you when you move, it’s considered personal property. Understanding what falls under this category helps you evaluate the extent of your coverage and ensure all your valuables are adequately protected.

In most cases, personal property under homeowners’ insurance covers items within the home, yard, and garage and can also cover items when traveling. Items stored away from the residence are typically not covered unless the individual seeks specific coverage.

As with any coverage, your homeowner's policy will have coverage limits, the maximum amount an insurer will pay in case of a claim. For individuals with high-value items, it's crucial to ensure your limits are high enough to cover them or seek specific coverage.

What Perils Are Covered in a Standard Policy?

Standard homeowners insurance policies typically cover personal property against a variety of perils. These often include:

  • Fire and Smoke
  • Theft and Vandalism
  • Water Damage (excluding floods)
  • Windstorm and Hail
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Explosion
  • Falling Objects

However, reviewing your specific policy is essential, as coverage can vary. Standard policies usually do not cover damage from floods or earthquakes; separate policies or endorsements are required for these perils.


When filing a claim, insurance companies determine compensation based on either Actual Cash Value (ACV) or Replacement Cost Value (RCV).

Actual Cash Value (ACV): This approach considers depreciation. For example, if your five-year-old TV is stolen, an ACV policy will pay out what that TV is worth today, considering wear and tear.

Replacement Cost Value (RCV): This method covers the cost of replacing the item with a new one of similar kind and quality without factoring in depreciation. Using the same example, an RCV policy would provide the amount needed to purchase a new TV equivalent to the stolen one.

While RCV policies typically result in higher premiums, they offer better protection and ensure you can fully replace your belongings without out-of-pocket costs due to depreciation. When setting up your policy for personal property, consider the value of your items and what you would need to replace when choosing between ACV and RCV.

Covered vs. Scheduled Property

Personal property coverage in standard policies usually has limits on certain high-value items. These items, like jewelry, art, or collectibles, may not be fully covered under the default policy limits. Most policies will have specific limits on these items, such as a $10,000 limit for fine art. If you experience a loss and your acceptable art items are worth more than this, they would only be covered if they are scheduled explicitly with their value attached to the policy.

When discussing covered vs scheduled property, covered property refers to items included in your policy's base coverage. For example, your policy might cover electronics up to $2,000; any losses within that range would be fully covered in a claim.

For high-value items, scheduling them on your policy ensures complete coverage. This involves listing the items separately and providing appraisals or receipts to establish their value.

How to Schedule Your Property

If you have high-value items in your home or on your property, scheduling them on your policy is highly recommended to ensure replacement in the event of a claim. To schedule personal property, follow these steps:

  1. Inventory Your Belongings: Make a comprehensive list of all valuable items. Note their descriptions, purchase dates, and prices.
  2. Obtain Appraisals: To establish the current value of items like jewelry or artwork, professional appraisals might be necessary.
  3. Contact Your Insurance Provider: Discuss adding a scheduled personal property endorsement to your policy.
  4. Submit Documentation: Provide the necessary documentation, including appraisals and receipts. These items may only be approved for coverage limits with proof of value.
  5. Review and Adjust Coverage: Ensure that the scheduled items are accurately reflected in your policy and that the coverage limits meet your needs.

It’s important to note that scheduling items often slightly increases your premium but guarantees complete protection for your valuable assets. For individuals without high-value items, scheduling property outside of your standard coverage limits may not be necessary. However, it is recommended for anything that wouldn’t be covered within your base coverage and specific category limits, such as fine arts and electronics.

The Importance of Documentation

The significance of documentation cannot be understated, and a lack of documentation may lead to a denial of the claim, even if a loss is covered. Insurance companies may deny coverage for a loss if the items lost do not have sufficient proof of value, such as appraisals and receipts. Similarly, suppose an item not scheduled is lost and exceeds the base policy limits. In that case, the insurer will not have sufficient evidence to provide replacement or coverage for those items. Be sure to check with your insurance agent or provider on specific limits, exclusions, and particular limits for certain categories. The more you know your policy, the better you can prepare to ensure you have the right coverage.

How Often Should You Review Your Coverage?

Regular reviews of your insurance policy are essential to maintain adequate coverage. Reviewing your policy at least once a year or whenever you experience significant life changes is advisable. Ensuring your personal property insurance adequately protects you involves considering a few key factors that could affect your coverage needs. First, when you make significant purchases like buying expensive electronics, jewelry, or art, it's essential to reassess your insurance to ensure these new items are covered. Similarly, if you renovate your home, boost its value, or upgrade your belongings, your insurance might need updating, too. Life events like getting married, inheriting valuables, or moving can also change what you need from your insurance.

During regular policy reviews, it's essential to take stock of what you own, evaluate its value, and adjust your coverage, as necessary. Being proactive in these steps ensures that your insurance keeps up with your changing lifestyle and possessions, giving you peace of mind.

Secure Your Personal Property Insurance with ECBM

Understanding personal property insurance is essential for protecting your valuables. You can ensure comprehensive coverage by knowing what constitutes personal property, the perils covered, the differences between ACV and RCV, the importance of scheduling high-value items, and the need for regular policy reviews. ECBM has extensive knowledge and experience in securing and providing adequate coverage for personal property. As the insurance landscape changes and the details of policies may change, having a trusted advisor can ensure you feel adequately protected in the event of a claim. Whether you need personal or business property coverage, ECBM can help. Contact us for more information on our services.