If you own expensive items, such as art, jewelry, or antiques, consider having your valuables appraised for insurance, estate planning, and tax purposes.
Appraisers assess the value of your property based on formal methodology and comply with standards and codes of conduct generally practiced in the field. An appraisal can provide you with the professional documentation you need to validate your property's worth to a third party, such as an insurer.
For insurance purposes, knowing the value of your items can help you choose appropriate coverage, and in the event that you need to file a claim, ensure that you receive the reimbursement to which you are entitled. In general, the maximum benefit under homeowners' insurance policies applied to the contents of a home is 50% of the coverage bought for the house.
Most homeowners' policies also limit coverage for expensive items, such as furs, jewelry, and silver. Benefits for each category of property are limited ($1,500 or $2,500 is a common limit). The category limits may be increased for an additional premium. Broader coverage for losses that are not included in the basic policy, such as mysterious disappearance or breakage, can be obtained via a "scheduled personal property endorsement." This will usually require you to supply bills of sale or appraisals for your expensive items dated within the last few years. Consider having your possessions appraised and insured before the need arises.