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How to keep your new valuables safe

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Updated: 2/03 12:08 pm

(BPT) - U.S. retail sales rose 3.5 percent during the 2013 holiday season, according to the MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse report. So whether you received some fun gifts from friends or put that holiday bonus to good use to buy something nice for yourself, you may have some new, expensive items in your home. If you have jewelry, electronics or other big ticket items, it's important to make sure you're protected through 2014 and beyond.

'It's crucial to insure high-priced items like electronics and jewelry,' says Erie Insurance Vice President and Product Manager Joe Vahey. 'Without the proper insurance coverage, you may not be able to replace these items if you become a victim of theft.'

To make sure your new valuables are covered, Erie Insurance offers these tips:

* Have the item or gift appraised: This can help establish the item's value. If a piece of jewelry is an antique or was purchased several years ago, it will need to be appraised for a dollar value. And while it might be difficult to put a price tag on sentimental value, this is a necessity to ensure your priceless possessions are accounted for and protected.

* Check your insurance coverage: Review your current policy to make sure your valuables are covered. If not, speak with your insurance representative to discuss your options. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do include coverage for expensive personal items but many policies will limit the reimbursement amount if they are stolen. In this case, you might want to purchase an additional rider to expand the coverage on the policy.

* Consider expanded policy coverage: For an additional premium (the amount paid for coverage), you can increase your coverage limits for each theft loss. Your insurance agent can help you decide what makes sense, based on the value of your items.

* Keep your store receipt: Save it with your home inventory records and take a picture of the item. Photos and documentation will help speed up the claims process if you have to file one.

* Store the item in a secure location. If it is something that you don't use on a regular basis, you may want to consider keeping it in a safe deposit box. Otherwise, consider using an in-home lock box.

* Get a home security system: Consider installing a home security system for added protection. Many times, just having a sign in your yard from the home security company is enough to dissuade intruders. Plus, some insurance companies like ERIE will offer a discount for preventive measures like having a security system installed.

* Alert the authorities and your insurance agent: Should your items go missing or you suspect theft, fill out a police report and alert your insurance agent in a timely manner. This will speed up the claims process and will probably increase the likelihood of getting your personal items returned.

If you want to make sure your valuables are protected, talk to your insurance agent to find out what your options are. To locate an Erie Insurance agent near you, or for more information, please visit www.erieinsurance.com.

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