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Insuring your guitars


Southpa
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Hi folks, been a while.  I have a few relatively new builds but I've stopped for the time being.  No more room! Not enough cases either!  I have about 40 gits and banjos now.  I managed to get a few out the door but they ain't moving fast enough.  Anyway, I was wondering what would happen if the house burnt down or if someone busted in and cleaned me out.  I used to spend about $300 a year for apartment insurance but I felt it wasn't quite enough coverage for my unique, custom-built guitars.  Who's to say how much these guitars are worth?  And how do I prove it to an insurance company?  I own a few factory built Gibsons, an old Hagstrom, a few Fenders and assorted others.  Its easy enough to get a bluebook value for those  but the ones I built are basically in limbo.  I can put a value on my builds, ie. cost of parts and materials, man-hours etc.  but that is not acceptable to an insurance company.  When I asked them about it they suggested bringing them into some guitar store and getting employee(s) to assess value.  I DID bring a few in but the guy was too busy, I actually talked to his partner previously on the phone but he did not communicate my wishes to him.  So he was too busy at the time, told me to email him a few pictures and he could give me a number from that..  Sorry, that is not good enough for me.  How do you guys protect your property if the need arises?  and how do you convince an insurer that your work is worth it?

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That's a good question!

It depends on your whereabouts, it depends on the insurance company and it depends on their current insurance deals.

Back in the day one local company had a dedicated instrument insurance with a nominal excess. I knew a drummer who got new cymbals every year for zilch since his old ones had mysteriously cracked under normal use. At some point my current insurance company asked if I had anything special as their home insurance normally would cover standard furniture and other household necessities such as tableware, linen and clothing.

Evaluating your own builds is an ungrateful task. You should pretty easily be able to insure the parts and materials as they have an unambiguous price tag. As I understand you don't build guitars professionally which means your man-hours will likely be counted as a hobby. Shop around, there's differences in insurances.

 

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Thanks for the reply.  The hard part is finding an insurance company that will readily agree with an outsider's unbiased appraisal.  It would have to be "official" , on paper and I'll bet there would be some fees involved.   Another sticky point is assessing a value on something that has never been done before.  I have one tele project that sports a SOLID 1 piece HOLLY neck with an ebony skunk stripe.  I don't think anybody has ever done that before so how do you appraise that, and who is going to believe you?  I guess I could itemize all the parts and materials, but would have to submit receipts.  It can get pretty complicated. 

A good analogy would be a friend of mine who bought an '89 GMC truck.  The bluebook value for said truck is currently around $800-$900.  But its loaded with about $54,000 worth of racing accessories, ie. blower, racing suspension / drivetrain etc. (the truck will do the 1/4 mile in less than 10 sec.) not the mention the $10,000 paint job.  But the auto insurers have a special category for modified vehicles.  I don't know if the same exists for guitars.

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I would suggest that you

A) take the guitar to another instrument maker for formal appraisal.  Perhaps a local repair guy... someone who might know more about high end hand built instruments

B ) explain to that person that this is for insurance (you don't want them thinking you are trying to use this to put a selling price on your guitar), and you need a written estimate and I would tell them you'll bring them 6 guitars to estimate and give them $50 total. 

I bet that does it.  Honestly, if you go to a local guitar shop you are going to get low-balled anyway, and esp if you get them to do it for free.  Everything costs money... doesn't have to be a back breaker but I would think 6 guitars might take them 40 mins and $50 would be fair.  If you lay it out like that... from the repair guy's perspective he's going to make cash for doing almost nothing.  Hard to pass up.

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