Selecting an Appraiser

Whatever your collecting passion, an appraisal, or “valuation,” establishes the basis on which your insurance values are set. Outdated values could limit your ability to be fully compensated through your insurance policy in the event of a claim, so it is in your best interest to maintain updated appraisals. Consider using the information below to help you make informed choices when choosing an appraiser.

  • Choose an appraiser who specializes in the type of items being evaluated rather than a generalist with broad expertise covering a range of genres (fine art, antiques, household contents, jewelry, etc.). Review the appraiser’s qualifications to gauge experience.
  • The appraiser should not have a vested interest in the items being appraised. For example, an appraiser involved in the purchase or sale of the items being evaluated, or of similar items, might present a conflict of interest.
  • Obtain quotes for appraisal fees in advance, with a written agreement in place prior to the start of the project. Fees should be determined on a per-item basis or at a negotiated rate if the total cost can be estimated up front. Avoid anyone basing fees on a percentage of the values; this is an unacceptable conflict of interest.
  • Use someone who prepares appraisals on a regular basis. Ideally, your expert will have been tested and certified by a recognized professional organization, such as the Appraisers Association of America, the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.
  • Final appraisal documents must be signed and dated, and conform to Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) guidelines. For more information, visit
  • For appraisals related to loss in value due to damage, the expert should have direct experience dealing with insurance claims.
  • Appraisals for insurance should be prepared using “insurance” or “retail replacement” values, not “fair market,” “estate tax,” “marketable cash value” or other valuation methods.
  • In some instances, purchase invoices can be used to establish insurance values. These invoices should be recent, include the address of a recognized sales institution, be printed on company letterhead, and be in U.S. currency or foreign currency converted on the date of sale.

For more information on protecting your valuables, contact your independent insurance advisor or email