News & Blog

El Cid

Posted on Wed, 5 October 2011 by Alyson Thomas - Coin News

A note of caution

LAST month’s comment regarding the recent burglary at the house of a member of the Token Team has encouraged a number of you to write into us with your own experiences of this situation. Many of these letters and emails were rather enlightening and I thought I would make a note of them here in the hope that some good may come of what has been a rather nasty business (although the police did catch the people who broke into our staff member’s house, they were caught red-handed at the scene of another house breaking and asked for his, and a number of others in the area “to be taken into consideration”—sadly the items stolen had long gone.). The most obvious thing that came out of all of your correspondence was the need to keep your collection a secret—this may seem obvious to most of us and we are unlikely to sit in a pub and boast about the latest Henry VI Noble we have acquired but equally it is very easy to be tempted to chat to your friends and colleagues about your hobby, the fact you visited a coin show at the weekend or found something particularly interesting with your metal detector etc. That’s all very well but who else is listening? Do you really want all and sundry knowing you collect coins? That’s one of the reasons we put carrier sheets over our magazines when they’re delivered to subscribers’ doors each month! A little discretion may save a lot of heartache. The next piece of advice that came across was “keep your collection hidden”—some of you may well have your coins on display in frames on your walls—nice for you to look at but very easy for others to spot and equally easy for a thief to cart off if he does break in. Of course, I’m not suggesting that everyone who comes into your house is a potential thief but equally you don’t know who those who come into your house to do some work, read the meter etc. may tell about what they’ve seen (in all innocence of course), or who they, in turn, will tell and so on. Again far better to be safe than sorry.

There were also a number of letters and queries regarding the valuation of collection—just what extent do you need to go to to ensure you’re fully covered? We can’t give insurance advice but in our own experience it seems that most insurance companies are prepared to take a self-valuation when it comes to covering relatively low value specialist collections—the book price (using our own COIN YEARBOOK or similar) will allow you to get a good idea of what your coins are worth and, unless you have any single items that are particularly valuable (usually over £2,000 but insurance companies do vary), that may well be all you need. But please do not take our word for it, always check with your insurer as to exactly what they require. Just be sure to update that valuation at least once a year—more if you have a high percentage of gold coins in yourcollection—otherwise you may find it impossible to replace your coins as the prices are way beyond what you insured them for. For higher value collections then it may well be worth your while getting a professional appraisal from a coin dealer or auctioneer, they will usually charge for this service—you’re using up their time and expertise after all—but will give you a formal written valuation that you can present to an insurance company should the need arise. At least then you won’t have to worry too much about having to prove ownership or value and it will cut out a lot of the hassle at what is already a traumatic time.

Actually the trauma of a burglary—and the consequent insurance claim was also the subject of a number of comments, calls and letters all saying the same thing—that the horrible experience of a burglary is never helped by having to fill in countless forms and proving to an insurance company that you did have what you say you did and that it was worth the amount you say. Many readers said that they felt that they were being treated like the criminal and that they felt aggrieved that an insurance company would take money quickly enough but make the insured jump through hoops when it came for them to pay out. Sadly the simple fact of the matter is there are millions of pounds worth of fraudulent claims every year and, were it not for the apparently suspicious nature of the insurers, our premiums would actually be far higher so no matter how difficult your insurer may seem to be being, remember there is a reason behind it. The good thing is the vastmajority of those who have written in actually had their claims settled in full—so even if there was some hassle at first it all came good in the end.

The moral of the story seems to be that if you have done all you can to prevent a burglary, if you have insured your collection properly and have done your best to prove you had what you say you had then you won’t actually encounter many problems. The trouble is, of course, many of us only think about all this when it’s too late and that has been the reason for my “Comment” in these past two months—to get you to think BEFORE it is too late. I hope I have succeeded and hope too that I can talk about happier things next month!