As the popularity of collecting wine has grown, so has the market for insurance. It has been estimated that 85% of wine collectors are “completely under-insured”.

Companies typically offer two types of coverage -- “blanket policies” with a per bottle limit and a cap on payout, or detailed listed coverage, which requires an accurate inventory. It is generally cheaper to place your collection, whether on or off site, on your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Expect a premium of 30 cents to 50 cents per $100 of collection value. Stand alone policies typically require a $200-$500 minimum annual premium.

Compare policy terms carefully. I have seen policies that exclude theft, and require visually apparent bottle damage despite proof of mechanical failure, excessive long term heat exposure, and associated wine spoilage. Use independent certified appraisers. Insurers have been known to require proof of the pre-loss condition of every bottle claimed a loss, and refuse to accept pre and post damage appraisals from non-certified appraisers.

Wine storage facilities that have arrangements with insurers to refer clientele and provide appraisal services have a built in conflict of interest. You may be better served obtaining coverage independent of storage facility involvement.

Likewise, beware of storage facility representations that all clients are insured by the facility policy. The typical facility policy insures the facility against client claims, and may or may not cover "property of others". The client is his or herself insured only if he or she is, or is bound as, a named insured on the facility policy. A facility will typically be listed as a joint payee on any facility policy claim, thus retaining leverage over claimants to the extent the claimant may have contributed to a loss sustained by the facility. In short, there are distinct advantages to having your own independent coverage.

Sinclair, LaPlaya, and AXA are among popular programs.