Research carried out by Direct Line over a decade ago showed that 40% of us inherited a family heirloom that is worth on average £3000, yet one in five of us are in possession of an item worth £10,000. And this research was conducted over a decade ago – by now these valuations could have gone up.

The portion of heirloom owners who are also expert valuers is likely slim, meaning that trinkets, jewellery, chairs and Persian rugs could be left neglected in the attic, it’s true value either never revealed, or only done so after a flood has all but wiped it.

Take a look at the common mistakes made with family heirlooms and avoid making them yourself:

Uncared for
Where do we keep all those items we’re not sure what to do with but are not ready to part with? In the attic, garage, or cellar of course. But with unregulated temperatures, darkness, damp and the risk of exposure to the elements or a burst pipe, these are the worst places to keep valuable possessions.

Professional valuations may be expensive, but if a bracelet you thought was worth £2000 was actually closer to £10K, it’s worth it. Some professional valuers cost up their work by charging a percentage of what the item’s worth. The more valuable the piece in question, the more worthwhile it is to pay for a professional’s verdict.

This error goes hand-in-hand with the previous two. If you’re not aware of something’s worth, you’re less likely to take care of it and shove it out of the way in your garage perhaps. Exclusions on your home insurance policy may state that items stolen from a garage aren’t covered.

Single items on your home insurance are normally covered up to the value of £1500, which is fine for a bike or a speaker system, but not for the 18th Century blanket box you have in the attic. If you need to make a claim, you may be disappointed to discover that your settlement doesn’t even come close to covering an antique piece of furniture, valuable artwork, or one-off items of jewellery.


The Jacobean Silver
An insurance company paid out £300,000 for a family’s collection of Jacobean silver which was stolen during a burglary. It hadn’t been valued since the 1980s; an up-to-date valuation would have placed it closer to £2m.

The Grandfather Clock
A policyholder claimed for a fire on an insurance policy that was taken out in the 1970s. Their French Antique clock was valued on the policy at £1,500, which the insurers paid out when the clock was destroyed in a fire. At the time, similar clocks were fetching close to £12,000 at auction.

Is it time to take your heirlooms more seriously?
High net worth insurance isn’t just for wealthy clients who have a portfolio of properties. An heirloom worth tens of thousands is not going to be sufficiently covered by your home insurance – one of the reasons high net worth insurance exists as a form of cover.

Thorntons have the knowledge and experience to help you secure the future of your family heirlooms with the right insurance cover, as well as recommended valuers to start you off on the right foot.

Talk to our team to find out more.