For the average person, a simple Homeowners Insurance policy will cover against any theft or damage that befalls his records. Vinyl aficionados, on the other hand, have likely spent years and thousands of dollars securing a grand collection, filling up several bookcases, even rooms, and Homeowners policies might not be enough. Here are some steps that will make it easier for you to set up a policy rider to further protect yourself.
1. Organize. It’s easiest to line your records up alphabetically, but whatever system works you choose, make sure it’s one you can easily follow in the future. (Rob Gordon’s plan, as shown in this scene from the movie High Fidelity, probably isn’t something you’ll be able to keep up with.)
2. Document. You can choose to video, photograph, or enter the items into a database. If you select a visual method, make sure you have adequate light. You might even want to take the records out of their sleeves to note their existing conditions. On video, you can narrate the titles, years, and genres. With photos, you definitely want to include that information on the file name somehow. A database, while slightly more time consuming, might be the most accurate way to catalog your collection because you can subcategorize information in different columns, like condition or grade, plus it will be very helpful when finding values.
3. Grade. Clean any particularly scuzzy records first! Then take note of any wear around the spindle hole, groove wear, hairline scratches, larger scratches that will cause a pop or a skip, etc and factor that into the grade. (For more information on How to Grade Your Records, see our article here.)
4. Determine value. After you’ve graded your records, you can perform an internet search to find many sources and discover how much your records are worth. Popsike is a popular choice, but many of the prices are in Euros, so you’ll have to do some converting, and they aren’t always accurate. Keep in mind that value is determined by the condition of the record AND how sought after it is. Bing Crosby was extremely popular, so many pressings of his work went into circulation. However, as the Greatest Generation diminishes, so does the value of any of Bing’s records.
A very basic breakdown is as follows:
- 78s from the late 1950’s, American Blues & Hillbilly country from 1930’s & 1940’s = $10 ($20 if in the original manufacturer’s sleeve)
- 45s with the original manufacturer’s sleeve 1950’s – mid 1960’s = $10 or more
- 45s with the original picture (not plain white) sleeve = $30 -$100 or more
- 45 EPs with the original cardboard sleeve = $100 or more
- LPs by R&B pioneers of the 1950’s & 1960’s = $500 or more (due to the scant original offering)
- LPs by Rock n’ Roll or Rockabilly pioneers of the 1950’s = $100 or more
- LPs by “teen idols” 1955- 1966 = $10 – $20 ($40 – $60 if in “true” stereo)
- Any original pressing Beatles-related (this can be a Fab 4 title, a lone Beatle, or artists working with a Beatle) = $100 or more
- Other rare records from oft-collected artists from the 1950’s through the 1970’s (Artists include Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Joy Division, Jimi Hendrix, Depeche Mode, etc. Keep in mind that fans set the price most often here.) = $100 or more.
(Source: Continental Records Company Ltd)
You can also contact your insurance company to see if they have a professional appraiser who can determine value for you. This isn’t unlike other high-end collectibles – jewelry, baseball cards, autos.
4. Contact your insurance company. See if your collection will be adequately protected against fire, theft, flood, and other damage. If not, see if you can purchase a rider to extend your coverage to the collection.
While this may not be as important as securing your health or auto coverage, weird things do happen, so it’s a good idea to get started sooner than later.
Do you have any experience with insurance riders to cover your high-end gear and collections? What are your tips? Sound off in the comment section!