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Are Your Quilting Things Insured?

Are Your Quilting Things Insured?

By Janelle Cahoon, Quiltcentric

I started thinking about the hundreds or thousands of dollars in equipment and material we quilters, and others who sew, have sitting in our sewing rooms.  I wondered, also, about the many quilts we probably have in our homes.  How do we know whether we’d be able to replace these things in event of a fire or other catastrophe?

I sat down with Bridgette Hearne, a State Farm agent, the other day, and got a crash course in Insurance For Quilters, which I want to share with you.

Bridgette wanted me to emphasize that each situation is a little different and that each person should contact their own agent, but that there are certain things we should all know about insuring our quilting things.

The first is that renters, whether in a house or an apartment, are especially vulnerable.  The landlord has insurance that covers the building itself, but the landlord’s policy doesn’t cover the renter’s personal property.

“Renters often don’t think of it,” Bridgette said, “But if there’s a fire and everything’s destroyed, unless they have renter’s insurance they haven’t got any coverage at all to replace their belongings.”

Fabric, sewing machines, quilts and other things we have in our sewing rooms are considered “personal property” in insurance terms, so we need to check our coverage under the personal property limits of our policy.

On a homeowner’s insurance policy, the personal property limits will be a percentage of the value of the home, somewhere between 40% and 75% depending on the insurer.  We need to be sure that limit is high enough to cover not only our quilting things but also the rest of our belongings.

Another thing to check is whether your insurance policy provides payment based on “replacement cost” which is how much it would cost to buy a new item “of like king and quality” or whether it would pay based on “actual cash value” which is the depreciated value of the item.

For example, if you have a computerized sewing machine that you bought 7 years ago, the “replacement value” policy would provide the money to buy a new, similar machine, while the “actual cash value” policy would only pay enough for you to buy a used, 7-year-old machine.

Of course, this example would also hold true with all your other belongings – a 5-year-old couch, 3-year-old laptop, 2-year-old clothing, 10-year-old books, etc. – so it’s not just about the sewing room.

If you decide, after reviewing your policy, that the personal property limits are too low, it’s possible to bump them up for a little additional premium.

Is your quilting a hobby or a business?

If it’s a hobby, you’ll be covered under the homeowner’s or renter’s policy, but if you’re getting payment for your quilts or quilting services, or even if you trade them for other goods or services, things become more complicated.  There will be limitations on the coverage of the business-related property.

“It doesn’t always require for you to be set up as an official business to fall under the business category,” Bridgette told me, “just that you’ve received payment.  This is a decision made by the Claims department.  If there’s any question about it, people should check with their agent and have them run it by Claims.  If Claims says their quilting is a business, their agent should be able to add an endorsement to their policy to cover the business property, or if it’s a large enough amount they may need a commercial policy.”

Whether your quilting is categorized as a hobby or a business, you’ll still need to have some proof of what you owned if things are later damaged or destroyed and a claim needs to be filed.

That proof is an inventory, backed up by receipts whenever possible.

It sounds tedious to go through the whole house to list everything you own, but it can make a big difference in the insurance claim payment received after a loss.

Bridgette reminded me that photos or videos are really helpful too.  I could take photos of my sewing machines and shelves of fabric as evidence of how much and what kinds I own.  Keep receipts, too, especially for expensive equipment.

On the subject of quilts, Bridgette recommends including good photos of all the quilts in with the inventory.  Valuation will probably be based on how much it would cost to replace it with a similar quilt.  For antique or family heirloom quilts, keep some notes on their history that may impact the value.

“If the quilts may be valuable, a quilt appraisal can be a helpful guide that the adjuster would consider if a claim is filed,” Bridgette told me.

Finally, be sure the inventory and the supportive materials are stored somewhere safe away from your own house – if the house burns down, you don’t want your inventory to burn with it!

“Keep in mind that any claim you need to file will be subject to the deductible and the ‘named perils’ clause in your policy.  These are the usual covered causes of loss under a homeowner’s policy like fire, theft, wind, etc.  If somebody drops their sewing machine or spills soda on it and it stops working, that won’t be covered because it’s not a ‘named peril;’ it’s considered maintenance.  If a quilt is lost or stolen, that would be a covered loss, but any claim for it would be subject to the deductible,” Bridgette concluded.  “Everybody should check with their own agent if they have any questions or concerns.”


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