Inexpensive jewellery insurance valuations, a genuine saving or false economy? Part 1.

As a professional jewellery valuer, I am a service provider. And like any service; prospective clients compare the cost of employing my services against other similar companies and individuals.  

The adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is particularly relevant when looking at jewellery valuations, especially those for insurance replacement. The jewellery industry is like any industry: there is always someone who says they can do it for less; but is the person doing the work qualified to do so, and is there a long term cost to this perceived short term saving?  

It is understandable for thinking that every valuation is created equal. However, that would be akin to saying that anyone who picks up a paintbrush is an artist; it is just not the case. In all honesty, I would not expect anyone outside of my field to know that the quality of an insurance valuation can vary significantly. After all, most people’s exposure to insurance valuations crops up maybe once every few years, typically at the insurance company’s request. Often with little guidance given by the insurance company, other than the instruction to ‘get a valuation’. 

So, you make some enquires to find someone who can do the work. Like most services, our decision is often influenced by cost and convenience. 

In my experience, rarely does anyone ask if I am qualified to do the work, thankfully I am. But I have always found this surprising because you would always check that a gas engineer, plumber or electrician was suitably qualified before letting them loose in your home. But with jewellery, there seems to be this assumption that because someone works in a jeweller, they are somehow qualified to value. That would be like asking a carpenter to rewire your house, on the basis, that their job also involves houses. Working in a similar field does not automatically qualify you to do the work.  

Again, I do not blame the people calling either myself or my colleagues, as the jewellery trade itself has a lot to answer for on this front. You see a myth that a valuation is ‘just an opinion’ and therefore anyone can provide one is as old as time itself. I have no idea where this myth came from, and despite the best efforts of some parts of the jewellery industry, it refuses to go away. And this myth has led to numerous unqualified jewellery manufactures and retailers providing insurance valuations to members of the public, that are not fit for purpose. I hasten to add that these ‘valuations’ are often provided in good faith. Because the person producing it, honestly believes that as ‘an opinion’, there could be no possible ramifications should an issue arise with the valuation a few years down the line. That sadly, could not be further from the truth and several unwitting jewellery retailers, have found themselves in court over their ‘opinion’.  

In most cases, the unqualified person providing this so-called ‘valuation’ charges a nominal fee because all they are doing is popping an arbitrary figure on a piece of headed paper. Often with little inspection of the articles and even less research to justify the replacement value being undertaken.

This nominal fee causes the most consternation with the prospective client when they receive a quote from a qualified and professional valuer such as myself. And in all honestly, this is to be expected. How is the client to know the difference between valuations and whether they are fit for purpose or not? How are they to know whether the valuation contains all the required and pertinent information to enable recovery of the piece? More importantly, ensure the settlement figure is accurate? This simple truth is they do not. They see provider A, offering a service at £X, while provider B offers what they perceive to be the same service for considerably more. So, could you fault them for choosing the least expensive option?  

The issues these arbitrary ‘valuations’ can cause at the point of claim are numerous and acutely distressing. Imagine being told that your insurance settlement will be significantly less than you expect, because your valuation lacks essential information, or worse still, you will not be receiving a pay-out at all. The small saving made when undertaking the valuation pales into insignificance when faced with a settlement, thousands of pounds less than expected.  

So, what are your options when you need an insurance valuation? Well, you could save some money and continue to use the services of someone with no formal qualifications. The proverbial ask your carpenter to do your electrics approach. Then cross your fingers and hope that your single piece of A4 paper ‘valuation’ survives a settlement inspection. Or you could pay to have your valuation done correctly and have it undertaken by a member or fellow of the Jewellery Valuers Association. This ensures that your valuation is carried out by someone both experienced and qualified to do so. A valuation that has been compiled following the most professional and stringent guidelines in the industry. A valuation where the ascribed values, have been thoroughly researched and are entirely justifiable and most importantly, a valuation that is fit for purpose.  

Part 2 of this article coming soon……

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