We have done work for almost every insurance company you can think of and have never had a complaint. Our customers want what they had replaced with the same thing. Not similar, the same. That’s why they come back over and over again. When it comes to stones, we “hard grade”. That means that if a stone is in the middle of a SI1 and SI2 grading, we down grade it to SI2. Most other jewellers choose not to do this. Our customers expect it from us. We are one of the least expensive artisan shops creating quality goods in the Niagara peninsula. By concentrating all of the tasks required to create a piece in one house, we bypass all of the other profit takers that commercial re-sellers must pay. Since our costs are lower, we can reduce our prices and still make the margins we need. If we were in a big mall and paying huge rents, our prices would be higher too.
OK, so now you’ve had a loss.
The first thing to remember is “don’t panic”. You’re all upset that someone has “got you” and you might not even remember everything that you had right away. You have time to relax, reflect on what you had and then to list everything and submit it. The faster you move, the more likely you are to miss something.
List everything that you can’t find. All the “little stuff” can add up very quickly. Go through your photo albums and they will jog your memory. Talk with your partner, friends and family about where you went and what you’ve done and, all of a sudden, you might remember a piece you’d forgotten about completely.
Don’t jump at the first offer the insurance company makes. If it doesn’t cover everything you lost, you can negotiate. You are legally free to choose to use whatever Jeweller you want to replace the items and every jeweller will have a different price for similar items. Notice I said similar. No two Diamonds are identical. Neither are any two other gems. They will be in the same range but not identical.
If the amount they offer you is too little, pause and get composed and tell them you’re going to get some other quotes. You paid for this coverage for exactly this event, don’t let them spook you into making a panic decision. If you choose to deal with us, we can help you negotiate with the adjusters.
Always find any paperwork you have and any pictures of the lost pieces. Pictures can be blown up to an amazing degree and if you are in the position where you disagree with what the company is offering, they can buttress your position substantially. If you visit our store, we can show you how to take photos that are admissible in court, before you have a loss.
Now you can find your own choice of jeweller, whom you trust, and see what the cost of replacement really is. You can even come to us.
Most people don’t really understand their insurance coverage until a loss occurs. Often, they discover too late that they are under-insured. Usually, the price difference is the due to the price of gold and precious gems increasing dramatically over the last decade. If you haven’t made changes in your policy to keep pace with those increases, you will lose money if a disaster occurs. In 1950, the minimum wage was $0.50 an hour. In the early seventies, $500.00 a month was a reasonable pay. Now, you can’t live on $500.00 a week! And everything from yesteryear is priced accordingly.
In 2002, gold sold for $322.10 US per ounce. In 2012, gold hit $1,900.30. Currently, in mid 2016, gold is just under $1400. It is also important to remember that precious materials are predicated in US dollars. You must allow for variance in the exchange rates as well. Currently the exchange rate between Canadian and US dollars is 30%.
You keep your house and your car insurance in line with current prices: don’t let your jewellery fall behind and become undervalued. If you have over $5,000 in jewellery, that you leave at home, I strongly suggest that you get a jewellery “rider” for proper coverage. And also get a secure storage spot, and no, not in the freezer!
For illustrations sake, let us consider a worst-case scenario.
Ten years ago, your partner purchased a gift for you valued at $5,000.00. Last week, you lost this piece, and some others, in a home invasion. You have a have regular home policy and you’ve never made a claim before. So, you contact your friendly local insurance agent that you’ve known for all those years. Right from the get-go, they disappear and an adjuster takes their place who works for the insurance company, not you. The adjusters’ job is to save the company as much money as possible, meaning they must try to give you as little as possible on your claim.
The first thing they do is reduce your claim to the limit on your policy: standard home insurance often has a cap on jewellery, from $5,000 to as low as $1,000.00. Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you have $5,000.00 coverage. This cap is for all of your jewellery, not just one piece. Next, you lose your deductible, usually in the range of $1,000.00. At best, you have $4,000.00 left for your total claim. Today, with the price of gold four times higher, a gift purchased for $5,000.00 then could never be remade for the same price today. And if you do get the gift remade or replaced, you’ll have to forget about all of the other pieces that are gone.
You will need to bring them a current appraisal from an accredited person or firm. If you have nothing, you must proceed carefully. Remember the photos.
The adjuster will usually suggest that you allow them to use their own preferred or “in-house” jeweller to supply your replacement piece. Since the in-house jeweller is paid a “blue book” price by the insurance company, it is in their interest to buy the replacement parts as inexpensively as possible.
(A quick side note on this practice: in Canada, it is against the law for insurance companies to dictate where you must go to get your work done, and they must adjust their price to conform with an average of evaluations from three separate sources, even if those numbers disagree with numbers from the insurance company’s “preferred dealer”. The same law gives you the right to refuse a replacement that you feel is substandard or inferior in quality.)
Even with these measures of law in place to protect you, it is in the best interest of the insurance companies’ in-house jewellers to employ cost-cutting measures. They don’t have any customer relationship to consider and so they approach your valuable jewellery with a different level of unbiased professionalism as your regular independent jeweller. There are many grey areas where an adjuster has “wiggle room” to cut costs while still appearing to fulfill the original assessment’s requirements. For example, the cut, clarity and colour of a stone are not rigidly defined: an adjuster could allow for an inferior stone to be substituted if they get the paperwork from an “easy”-grading firm. There are no laws in Canada regulating the jewellery appraiser field at this time. Never accept a certificate that states “in my opinion” and then goes on to allow the appraiser to disavow responsibility.
(A second aside: exceptions to the stone quality murky rules are Registered Canadian “Hearts and Arrows” diamonds. A second is a GIA “triple X” grading and the third is AGS grading “triple O”. All of these grades mean that you have an “Ideal Cut” stone. There are very tight parameters for this grade of stone, leaving very little room for deviation. To guarantee yourself the best stone possible, come in and we will show you the difference.)
So, how can you protect yourself from all of this?
Never buy, or allow someone to buy for you, a stone or finished jewellery solely on the basis of a certificate. Each and every diamond is slightly different as are coloured gems. Canadian diamonds have a government issued certificate on each stone over 20 points and a laser engraved unique ID number on the girdle of the stone. Internationally recognized firms such as GIA and AGS issue stones that are laser engraved as well and their documentation is just as accurate, honest and equally comprehensive. There are a few independent houses in Hamilton and the Toronto area that are true to standards, but unfortunately, many are not. Do your homework before buying or accepting a replacement. Demand what you have paid for. If the paperwork and the price make it seem like an unbelievable deal, the paperwork lies.
Now, let’s take a look at the process a more careful consumer might choose.
Ten years ago, your partner also bought you a gift valued at $5,000.00, but at the same time they took out a “rider” to cover their jewellery at “cash replacement value” for each piece over $1,000. Now, when an unfortunate circumstances deprives you of your precious piece, you contact your agent, who remains in contact with the adjuster because there is no adversary situation. A rider spells out exactly what is insured and for how much. You must choose from current market value, cash replacement value and replacement value. Get your agent to go through these choices with you carefully as they are not the same at all.
You followed the required format and have all the papers and information you need and they authorize you to go to your own choice of jewellers to have the work done. If you bought it at store “A”, you can easily return there and rest assured you will again get the same quality.
One Insurance company we can recommend to you as helpful and honest is Jewellers Mutual. They have a policy that you should decide where to get your pieces replaced and they are the only insurance company that is dedicated exclusively to the jewellery trade. They very recently started to cover clients as well as businesses. Our experience with them has been nothing less than amazing.
The bottom line is that you must find a jeweller and an Insurance Company that you can trust and count on to do the best for you. You ‘re paying the fees, you should get the service. We would like to be your jeweller.