Have you considered asking your insurance agent for some direction in this matter?
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Yes, I did contact my insurance company first. Their response was to have an appraisal and try to have receipts (the receipt part would be futile, so an appraisal would be better). Years ago, a bunch of my stuff was stolen in a move across country. Back then, all I had to do was have an A/V friend right up the replacement cost on each item and I was paid that amount. Of course, I had to argue with the insurance company for about a year while they came up with various "deals" to try and make me go away. Eventually, they gave in.
Excellent thread which had me calling my insurance company USAA to see where I stood. The first thing I wanted to know is whether my equipment and my LP collection which is up to about 3800 pieces are insured under my homeowner's contents policy, and they are. The second question is what would be required of me to prove the value. I was told to definitely take photographs of both my equipment and media to "prove" its existence and having an itemized list is excellent protection. It's large task to itemize a large media collection, but ultimately we are our own best protection, and I guess that will get onto my to-do list. In my career I have had many dealings with clients and their insurance companies and they are all hugs and kisses when it comes to taking your money when you purchase a policy. But by definition a claims situation is an adversarial relationship, as virtually all claims departments will want to pay as little as possible. Having receipts for everything is highly improbable, but if you have a listing of what you own accompanied by photos, and a contents policy with an appropriate cap for your situation you should be able to arrive at a fair compensation after the fact. Keep in mind an appraisal, should you decide to go that route, is one person's opinion of an item's value and the dollar figure on the appraisal given to the insurance company becomes the cap of their liability to you, not necessarily what they will pay out in the case of loss. If they can find the replacement cost of an item of like kind and quality lower than the appraised value, that is what they will try to pay out. Keep this in mind should your appraiser value things on the high side.
A few notes and recommendations from my experience
Firstly, as noted LPs and other media are not usually covered under most household policies -- a specialist such as Collectibles Insurance can cover them very reasonably and is well worth considering
Secondly while the system itself is likely covered many of you may have a contents policy linked to your house value (say a $300K contents on a $600K house for example) -- if you have a megabuck system it's quite possible you have insufficient insurance, so do check the numbers and if necessary increase the amount of the contents
" I'm thinking of getting an insurance rider on my audio equipment, some of it more vintage. "
It may be nothing, but a rider is a term that is usually used by life and health insurance agents. P&C agents usually use the term endorsement instead. Given that, you may not be talking to the most qualified agent in your insurance office. Keep in mind, I'm just guessing and there may be no cause for concern at all.
If you get an endorsement for you home owners policy, remember that they will only go by what's in print. If its not clearly written in black and white, assume you're not covered. Also consider that some types of claims may not be covered under a standard policy, like wind and water damage. If you're a renter, the rules may be different than they would be for an owner, so just be aware of all the details.
And as is always the case, no matter what the circumstances are, no insurance company wants to pay claims. Unfortunately, most companies will still try and negotiate settlement, even if the cause and cost of the loss is perfectly clear. You want to try and use a company that will fight you the least.
If that's the case I'd talk to a high end store and see if they won't write up an estimate (for a fee). I'd also take pictures of all equipment for your records along with the serial numbers.
There are also several websites that have a history of vintage audio equipment, etc, they might also be helpful.
High end insurance companies will do this as a matter of course, e.g. Chubb, Ace (which bought Chubb). I originally insured my hi-fi under a blanket collectibles plan. It is now scheduled by item and retail/replacement value. I have also insured my record collection- easiest way is a blanket, based on an apportionment of value, e.g. X copies at Y dollars, Z copies at A dollars, etc. I have also done a pretty good job of creating a schedule of records, more detailed for the high value records and I do have photos of most of the high value ones. The difficulty, of course, is replacement of a rare older record that is in a high grade of playing condition. So, even assuming that you are insured, and can prove a loss, you are still not going to have an easy time replacing some records. It is something that gives me nightmares some times, but at some point, I have to put this into perspective--my aim is to enjoy these things while I’m still alive. Once I’m gone, this collection, such that it is, will get broken up and sold to others. I’m just a caretaker.
For inventorying and valuing your LPs I strongly recommend using the Discogs app -- it actually makes the process rather fun and also draws you into the broader Discogs community. Better for rock than classical but excels at parsing the differences between pressings and how that links to value. My insurer told me that a Discogs inventory plus current photographs of the aggregate collection would be sufficient for proof in case of loss
ps being an add on insurer Collectible even threw in coverage for earthquakes, as you all know that's a (cost prohibitive usually) extra for those of us on the West Coast for most of our other insurance needs
I checked on this a few years ago with my homeowner insurance agent. Unlike works of art or expensive jewelry, which must be scheduled (a detailed listing with an appraisal) and require additional premium, my audio equipment is covered under the basic contents coverage up to the limits of the policy, for which I do have sufficient coverage. Audio equipment is not like art and jewelry and can be valued by description after a loss.
You would need to check with your agent for your policy. Also, my agent sent me written confirmation that this is the case for my policy (just in case!).