A client returned home from the grocery store to find that in the 45 minutes they had been gone, someone had broken into their home. They hadn’t thought to set the alarm for such a short outing. Among the few items taken was their safe. An entire safe was dragged across the room, thrown down the stairs—along with tens of thousands of dollars in jewelry and other valuables.
As with many of your prized possessions, the value of jewelry is not simply monetary. These pieces often hold significant sentimental value, so taking the proper steps to secure and protect them is paramount. Consider these five security standards to help protect your treasured belongings:
1. Quality of Home Safes
Many high-net-worth individuals opt to store jewelry, especially frequently worn items, in home safes instead of safe deposit boxes. However, those sold at big box stores and locksmith shops are not designed for safeguarding high-value assets. Their flimsy and lighter-weight designs make them easy to pry open or carry off. The following suggestions can help make the selection, purchase, and installation process easier:
Consider the monetary or sentimental value of the items being protected. A high-quality safe does not come inexpensively, but just ask anyone who’s had valuables stolen—it’s a priceless investment.
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Weight is the key factor in determining a safe’s ability to prevent theft. A minimum weight of 750 pounds is advised, unless the safe will be installed on a ground floor with access to a main door; then the suggested weight minimum increases to 1,000 pounds.
There’s no substitute for high-quality materials. A substantially thick steel door and five thick steel walls are the only means of preventing a determined burglar from gaining entrance. Nothing less than a ½-inch solid steel door and ¼-inch walls are recommended. When shopping, be wary of the term “overall thickness,” which typically refers to a combination of materials, not solid steel.
A reputable security rating can provide added peace of mind. Look for a safe that has a UL rating of TL-15 or comparable. The TL-15 rating means that a team of engineers working for 15 minutes using common hand tools, drills, hammers, and pressure-applying devices could not crack the safe. A “pending UL rating” is not the same as being UL-rated.
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Install the safe where it is both out-of-sight and difficult to move. A basement or lower level provides the added benefit of gravity: it’s more difficult for a burglar to lug a 750 lb. safe up a set of stairs than it is to toss it out a bedroom window (which has been known to happen). Along the same lines, a master bedroom closet is often the first spot most burglars will look. However, a safe is only effective if it’s used, so consider the likelihood that you will make the trip downstairs each evening to secure the valuables worn that day. Once the spot is selected, the safe must be securely anchored to the home’s frame, alarmed and connected to the central station. Never share its location with anyone who does not need to know.
“High-net-worth specialist policies offer higher limits—typically between $5,000 and $10,000—but these limits still do not reflect the lifestyle of wealthy families. Some companies, such as PURE Insurance, go up to $50,000 on a Homeowners policy.”
2. Careful and Timely Maintenance
You may be very careful about maintaining and protecting your jewelry, but everyone is human: pieces may be unintentionally worn to the beach or loose clasps may go without repair for one day too long. Avoid loss by having a professional inspect pieces, especially higher-valued ones, regularly or at the first sign of damage or defect.
3. Background Checks for Staff
We recommend that you conduct background checks on all of your domestic employees. All too frequently, thieves know exactly which entrances are not monitored by camera or where a spare key is stored. Some specialty insurers who cater to high-net-worth individuals offer complimentary background check services.
4. Don’t Forgo Security While Traveling
If you travel with high-value jewelry, hold the hotel room safe to the same standards as you do your home safe. If you have doubts as to its security, ask the hotel management to hold the items in the hotel’s master safe.
5. Proper Insurance Coverage
The loss of these items can be upsetting, and insufficient compensation can be devastating. Your broker can help ensure you have the right policies and limits in place for your unique needs. This may include a separate policy for jewelry and other valuable collections, or increases to limits on your Homeowners policy. Your broker will also help you select the right insurance company that specializes in affluent clientele. Standard Homeowners policies contain restrictions that will only cover jewelry that is lost, misplaced or stolen up to a capped amount, typically $1,500. High-net-worth specialist policies offer higher limits—typically between $5,000 and $10,000—but these limits still do not reflect the lifestyle of wealthy families. Some companies, such as PURE Insurance, go up to $50,000 on a Homeowners policy. In addition, updating jewelry appraisals every three to five years is crucial to proper insurance coverage, and some insurers offer generous premium discounts for doing so.