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Why You Need Sports Card Insurance & How To Buy It

Collector's Insurance

Health insurance. Car insurance. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. We purchase these things with the hopes of never having to use them.

But if things go badly, these are the very things that allow us to regroup, rebuild, and get whole again. If insurance protects so many parts of your life, shouldn’t it insure a sports card collection too?

Maybe better protecting your collection was one of your New Years Sports Card Resolutions. If so, this article is for you.

So, let’s dive in and uncover why YOU need collector’s insurance and how to buy it!

What is insurance for sports cards?

Collecting insurance is just like other forms of insurance. It is a mechanism to protect your valuables from loss or damage. Typically, annual insurance rates are very low compared to the value of the protected assets.

Why you may need sports card collecting insurance?

If you’ve been collecting a while — and maybe if you haven’t — you’ve probably amassed a good number of valuable cards. While the sports card bubble may have burst, or at least fallen off its peak, prices are still up significantly from pre-Covid times.

Suddenly, you may not be looking at a small collection, but a valuable asset that needs protecting beyond storing in top loaders or dealing with humid climates. In my case, I recently realized that many of the graded cards I bought from 2016-2019 had gone up significantly in value. And by significant, I mean doubling, tripling, or more in some cases.

You may be thinking that you don’t need collectibles insurance since you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. There are some significant limits to what is covered by homeowners insurance.

For example, homeowners insurance often bases value on the cash value of an asset, not on its market value. With a volatile collectible like sports cards, that can be a problem.

Homeowner’s insurance also is capped at a percentage of the home’s value, and may not cover losses due to floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes, unless specifically called out in your policy. There are also documentation and appraisal requirements that may be difficult to deal with. Oh, and don’t forget about deductibles.

Protect those valuable cards!

What is the best sports collectors insurance policy?

When I decided to investigate collecting insurance, I began asking around and reading collecting forums, blogs, and the like. I quickly realized there was a consensus leader in the space. 90% of those people seem to recommend one company, Collectibles Insurance Services (CIS).

In addition to sports cards, CIS insures all kinds of collectibles, from comic books and artwork to guns and coins. I checked out their website, which provides a lot of information on coverage, and allowed you to quickly request a quote by answering some simple questions about your collection and its value.

The Collecting Insurance process – how to insure sports cards

So, one night I put in a request for a quote. The quote came back more or less instantly via the website and was very reasonable. I wanted to think about it, so I didn’t proceed with the process that night.

The next day, a rep from CIS called and left me a voicemail offering assistance, and followed up with an email. That’s a level of customer service I was not expecting.

One of the reasons I didn’t sign up for the insurance right away was that I wanted to validate my valuation estimate. The most valuable part of my collection is PSA graded cards, which has pushed past 720 cards.

I originally guessed this collection was worth $15-20,000. I had all the cards in a Google spreadsheet, many with the original purchase price, so I added a column for up-to-date comp price and started searching eBay for recent sales. As you can imagine, with 720+ cards, this took…a while.

I’m very glad I went through the effort, though, as I discovered my initial guesstimate was off by a significant amount, and the graded cards were valued at more like $32,000, based on the current cost to replace them.

In addition to the graded cards collection, I wanted coverage for some ungraded cards and autographs ($2,000). Add it all up and the amount of insurance I’d need to comfortably protect my collection is right around $34,000.

Sports card insurance coverage and costs

So, what and when does collector’s insurance cover you? It covers your collection both in your home or primary storage location and while in transit if being shipped or otherwise transported. For an additional cost, it can cover multiple locations and/or a storage facility.

What is covered?

Here’s a rundown (from CIS’s website):

  • Accidental
  • Breakage
  • ​Burglary
  • Fire
  • Flood (except in Zones A & V)
  • Loss in the mail
  • Natural disasters
  • Theft
  • ​Other causes of loss, unless specifically excluded from the policy

What isn’t covered?

Again, from Collect Insure’s website:

Government seizure or destruction of property; war and nuclear hazards; gradual deterioration such as fading, creasing or denting; nesting, infestation or discharge or release of waste products or secretions by insects, rodents or other animals; dampness or dryness of atmosphere; changes in or extremes of temperature other than fire; fraudulent, dishonest or criminal acts; voluntary parting with covered property; loss or damage while being worked on by you or others working on your behalf; and mysterious disappearance.

One other note: “Dealer Stock” is excluded from coverage, so if you’re either buying cards to be resold or listing cards for sale, those items cannot be covered by a collector’s policy. A dealer policy to cover these items may be available for an additional charge.

So, assuming your collection is stored securely and in a dry, animal-free area, you will be able to rest easy that your valuables will be protected.

What does the Collectibles Insurance Services application process look like?

After a few emails back-and-forth with my agent, in which they answered all my questions and guided me through the process, I filled out an application and emailed it in. The application was about 5 pages, but honestly only took a few minutes.

The application process collected some personal data, info on the collection, and some standard anti-fraud info. Individual items valued over $25,000 need to be accounted for separately, but lower-cost items could be recorded in more general terms.

If you need to put in a claim, it’s important to have records of your collection, be they a spreadsheet, purchase records, photos, video, etc. to prove ownership. It’s important to include sufficient details in this accounting and store this information someplace other than where you store your collection, just in case of a loss on site.

Storing the information in the cloud, so it’s accessible from multiple devices, is ideal.

So, how much does sports card collection insurance cost?

Now to the question, you all want to know…what does collector’s insurance cost? Well, the good news is that it’s very reasonable. For $34,000 of coverage, the annual premium was $225.72. That works out to roughly 2/3 of 1% of the total coverage amount. For peace of mind, it feels like a good investment to protect my collection and the time and money I have put into it.

The final word on collecting insurance

After exploring collector’s insurance, I went ahead and applied and purchased protection for my collection. Like with almost any insurance, I hope to never have to use it, but knowing the protection is there gives me peace of mind.

Considering the annual premium cost is less than buying a hobby box of 2022 Panini Absolute, it feels like a good investment.

One thing I wanted to add is that I was incredibly impressed with the level of service I have received to date from Collect Insure. The entire process has been great to date, and while I hope to never need to put in a claim, the service to date makes me optimistic that a claim would be handled very professionally.

Regardless of what company you go with, collector’s insurance is something worth exploring to provide you protection and peace of mind for your collection.

Mike D.

Mike D

Mike D. has collected cards for over 35 years, since he bought his first pack of Topps at the corner store in 1987. His fandom,  collecting interests, and contributions to Cardlines center around baseball in general and the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically.

Mike's collecting focus is centered on graded cards, mostly rookie cards, of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers. Lately, he's been enjoying dabbling in graded minor league cards. A collector/investor with a "buy and hold" approach, Mike takes the long-term view with his collection.
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