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FAQ: Insuring Your Book Collection

By Leah Dobrinska. Apr 18, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Book Care

So you’re a book collector. Perhaps you’re just starting out, or maybe you’ve amassed a sizable collection. You have researched the proper methods to protect your books from the elements—things like proper humidity control and winning the battle against bookworms. Your book collection is your pride and joy, and you’re looking forward to passing it down to your kids and grand-kids someday, or donating it to a favorite museum or institute. Excellent. Now, have you considered how you should insure your book collection? If not, you should. We've been asked recently about how to insure book collections. Here are several things to think about when it comes to protecting your investment.

Homeowner’s Insurance is not enough

Jungle_Book_Kipling_Inventory.jpgOften, collectors make the mistake of assuming that if they have a homeowner’s insurance policy, their book collection will be covered. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. A homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover your collection in the event of a fire, flooding, earthquake, or other natural disaster. Homeowner’s insurance policies cover costs more generally, but will not give you the replacement value of your rare or valuable books in the event of a loss.

Look into specialty insurance

Every insurance company is going to have different verbiage or titles on insurance policies as they relate to rare book collections. Be sure to talk to your insurance agent to determine what is the best option for you. Look into a rider on your existing policy that specifically covers collectibles like rare books.

We recommend researching specialty insurance companies whose sole focus is on these more nuanced policies, something like collector’s insurance or fine-arts policies, for example. The way it was described to us: a book collection is a specific entity like fine jewelry or a classic car, and as such, it’s helpful to go with a specialty carrier for your insurance needs. In fact, several general insurance agencies will actually defer to or even go so far as to refer you to a specialist to ensure your book collection is protected properly.

Document your inventory

Across the board, the insurance industry experts we talked with stressed the importance of accurately documenting your inventory. Make sure you have a written list of the books in your collection: title, author, edition, publication date, condition, etc. Save your receipts if you can. You can’t be too thorough. Be sure to continually monitor the worth of your collection so you can account for increases in value.

In the same vein, document your collection with photos. Often, for convenience, insurance companies offer the capability to take and store photos right within their particular mobile app. However you do it, be sure you have photos of your collection.

In the event of a loss, the claims adjuster will use your documentation to assess and offer payment to replace your collection.


It’s widely understood that no one cares much about insurance until they need it, at which point, it’s often too late. Be proactive, and don’t leave your valuable book collection unprotected. Look into appropriate insurance today to save yourself some serious grief tomorrow.

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Leah Dobrinska
Writer, editor, and lover of a good sentence, a happy ending, and the smell of books, both old and new. Enjoys reading children's lit to her daughters, home-improvement magazines with her husband, and Shakespeare by herself.


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