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Do Homeowners Money, Stamps Limits Apply to Collections?

Summary: Coin and stamp collections pose the question of whether this type of property is subject to the special limitations contained in the homeowners policy for money and stamps. The issue is not specifically addressed in current forms, leaving the question open to insurance company policy or court decisions in a particular jurisdiction. Varying approaches to policy drafting have attempted to settle the issue, but the most current homeowners language leaves the matter unresolved. Arguments both for and against including such collections in the policys special limits on money and stamps may be made.

Topics covered:Dispute over applicability of special limitsHomeowners language changedUse vs. kind of propertyCurrent ISO homeowners

Dispute over Applicability of Special Limits

The introduction of simplified language homeowners policies, both the Insurance Services Office (ISO) version and those of some independents, reopened the question of applicability of the money and stamp limits to coin or stamp collections. This issue, raised long ago under the original homeowners policies of the 1950s, was temporarily resolved by De Biase v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 286 N.Y.S.2d 502 (N.Y. App. Term 1967). The $100 money limit did not apply to rare coins, taken out of circulation by the insured, a numismatist, and subsequently stolen from the insureds residence. Instead, these coins were considered general personal property and covered to the full personal property coverage limit.

The court found that money is a medium of exchange, whereas the coin collection was secreted away in the insureds residence apart from whatever money and coins the insured used as a medium of exchange. The collection was viewed instead as a commodity which could be bought or sold at considerably more than the face amounts of the coins.

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