How to Calculate the Value of Personal Property

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It's a good idea to take an inventory of the items in your house, along with their current value, when you purchase property insurance. According to MetLife, this provides a record of your possessions for any claims and can help you determine if the current coverage level is sufficient. How you calculate property value depends on the type of insurance policy you have and the type of property you're valuing.

How Insurance Companies Value Your Property

Allstate explains that there are two ways that your insurance company may value your personal property -- at actual cash value or at replacement cost.

If you sign up for replacement cost coverage, the insurance company will value property at what it costs to replace your property at the time that you file the claim. For example, say that you bought a 50-inch flat-screen TV in 2010 and filed an insurance claim in 2015. The insurance company will reimburse you for the amount it costs to buy a 50-inch flat-screen TV when you filed your claim in 2015.

If you choose actual cash value coverage, the insurance company will value the property at the replacement cost of the item less any depreciation. If you filed a claim for the TV with this coverage in 2015, the insurance company would reimburse you for the current cost of a five-year-old 50-inch flat-screen TV that's in the same condition as yours was.

Tip

  • Take photos of your property and keep purchase receipts to prove that you, in fact, own the property you claim to have.

Valuing Your Household Goods and Furniture

If you have replacement cost coverage, value your items at what it would cost to replace them today. For common household items and furniture, the best way to do this is to check the current retail price of the item or a substantially similar item. You can check prices in-store or browse the store's website for prices.

If you have actual cash value coverage, value your items at the price you would pay to buy them in their current used condition. Potential sources for prices include:

  • Auction websites like eBay
  • Yard sales
  • Craigslist
  • Thrift stores
  • Used-furniture stores
  • Auction house listings.

Tip

  • Take a picture or save a copy of the website that notes sales prices for your property. This can save you time if you ever need to file a claim for an item.

Valuing Unique Items

It can be harder to find prices for unique and one-of-a-kind items; because of this, MetLife recommends that you get and maintain a professional appraisal for valuable items like:

  • Jewelry
  • Art
  • Antiques
  • Collectibles
  • Silver and gold
  • Furs

Nolo.com notes that it's a good idea to explain why you're getting the item appraised. An appraiser may value your item differently for insurance than he would for a bankruptcy, a divorce or for tax purposes.

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