Hiscoxcollections.com should mean an end to the annual chore of valuing and listing individual items in an art and antiques collection to meet the requirements of 'home and contents' insurance, say the firm.
Under the terms of a policy which is already available online, collectors will be able to get instant insurance cover by simply giving their own estimate of the value of their collection.
Any collection of items in the usual recognised categories* will be accepted, from majolica to mechanical toys, up to a limit of £250,000, provided that any individual object worth more than £10,000 is noted separately.
While Hiscox acknowledge that the arrangement brings a level of risk that items will be over- or under-insured, they argue that collectors will not be penalised. "Larger collections, over £250,000, will be subject to a referral and will require more information for them to underwrite the risk," said a spokesman.
Hiscox say that where collectors unwittingly fail to list an item worth £10,000 or more separately because they believe it to be worth less, the policy will remain in force but the client will only be able to claim up to £10,000 for that item.
The policy makes sense, says Robert Read, Head of Art at Hiscox, because most collectors of things like toys and ceramics amass lots of items of modest value rather than a few high value acquisitions.
This means that under the terms of their 'contents' policy they have the unenviable task of recording the details of every last item before they can enjoy the full benefit of insurance protection.
For those collecting, say, Worcester or snuff boxes, this could involve listing dozens or even hundreds of entries. The great majority of collectors, with collections valued between the low thousands and £250,000, have limited choice. They can either stick everything on the 'contents' policy and hope for the best - or spend hours drawing up a long personal catalogue of items."
Hiscox's new 'self-valuing' digital policy calculates the premium automatically and allows for a 10% increase in the size and value of the collection without penalty.
"We think this will appeal to collectors and hobbyists," Read continues. "Provided their collection of items falls within the £250,000 limit, they will only be paying to insure their body of collected possessions as a whole."
Policyholders with 'star lots' will be able to identify a few special items as being worth over £15,000 with a simple phone call, rather than having to repeatedly re-address the whole question of insurance.
Cover can be quoted and arranged in a matter of minutes from a tablet, mobile phone or PC.
Hiscox believe that insuring a home, chattels and furnishings under one policy and collectors' items under a separate no-quibble, self-valuing policy will give collectors greater protection at a lower overall cost.
* The scheme currently covers ten of the most popular areas of collecting in the UK including art, antiquarian books, ceramics and glass, coins and medals, furniture, clocks and barometers, stamps, arms and militaria, toys plus sporting and pop memorabilia.