High-end watches are luxury purchases that, unfortunately, can be easily lost, damaged, or stolen. That's why it's important for watch owners to safeguard their prized timepieces with suitable insurance.
While many people think that watches are covered by other forms of insurance they may have already, renters insurance or homeowners insurance generally does not protect highly valuable watches specifically. Even when they are protected by other policies, the coverage is often limited in value and capped at around $1,500 for the high-end item, an amount that won't necessarily cover the cost of all designer, collectible, or antique watches. This is why it's important to have a dedicated policy.
To help luxury watch owners protect their investments against potential theft or damage, we reviewed more than a dozen watch insurance companies—including general insurers that offer watch coverage as an add-on to an existing policy, as well as specialized watch and jewelry insurance companies—and ranked the five best watch insurance providers.
The 5 Best Watch Insurance Providers of 2020
Best Overall: Jewelers Mutual
With a history dating back to 1913 and an A+ Superior rating from insurance ratings company AM Best, Jewelers Mutual offers coverage for loss, theft, damage, disappearance, flood- or earthquake-related issues, and worldwide travel for watches and other jewelry.
The price of a watch insurance policy varies based on the value of the watch and the owner's ZIP code. For instance, the company's website offers sample quotes for watches, including $26 per year for a $2,500 watch in Seattle with a $0 deductible, and $98 per year for a $7,000 watch in San Diego with a $100 deductible. This works out to be 1% to 2% of the retail value of a replacement item, a similar rate to the other companies reviewed here.
Policyholders can initiate the claims process online or over the phone and will need to provide proof of ownership (such as the receipt, appraisal, or a dated photo of the watch), a written statement detailing what happened, and a police report. After initiating the claim, the next step is choosing a jeweler or watch vendor to repair or replace the item and paying the deductible (if applicable).
We chose Jewelers Mutual as the best overall provider of watch insurance because of the company’s long history in business and its outstanding customer reviews. According to a Jewelers Mutual survey of customers in 2017, policyholders gave the claims process 4.89 out of 5 stars. These higher-than-average marks for customer satisfaction, compared to other companies we considered, are consistent with third-party reviews from Trustpilot, where the company has earned a five-star rating based on more than 6,000 reviews, in addition to the company's A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Best for High-Value Watches: AXA ART
For fine watch collectors, AXA ART, working in partnership with MiniCo Insurance Agency, is an AM Best A-rated carrier that offers coverage for items valued at $1 million or more, with appraisals required only for watches or jewelry valued over $50,000. Deductibles are available as low as $0 per incident. These factors are what made them our top choice for high-value jewelry and watches.
Coverage from AXA ART includes accidental breakage, fire, lightning, water damage, mysterious disappearance, loss in transit, and burglary. Policyholders can initiate the claims process via email, phone call, or fax. You'll be required to share necessary documentation including purchase receipts, an inventory list that describes the item(s) and value(s), photos, and videos.
While annual premiums vary by location and watch value, a sample quote for a $5,000 watch located in Los Angeles showed a premium of $83 per year. The company also offers coverage for other types of collections, such as wine, rare books, art, sports memorabilia, and more.
Best for Mid-Value Watches: BriteCo
In partnership with top-rated HDI Global Insurance Company (AM Best: A, S&P: A+), BriteCo offers watch insurance worldwide and protects against damage, loss, theft, mysterious disappearance, gifts to others at a separate address, and other benefits—with zero-deductible plans available.
Policies pay up to 125% of the appraisal value of your ring or watch for items valued up to $50,000 per item, up to $150,000 in total coverage per policyholder.
For heirlooms and classic watches, agreed-value policies are available, where an agreed-upon dollar amount is paid out. However, these policies typically include deductibles.
BriteCo requires that customers get an appraisal through a BriteCo partner in order to receive a quote or purchase coverage. BriteCo's website explains that insurance policy costs depend on the customer's geographic location, while generally ranging between 1% to 2% of the appraised value of each item. They share a sample quote to insure a $5,000 engagement ring which would cost between $50 to $100 per year.
BriteCo customers who need to file claims can do so online or by phone. If the incident involves a crime, a copy of the police report must be provided. BriteCo will work with your local jeweler to replace your item.
Best Add-On Policy: GEICO
GEICO is rated A++ by AM Best and AA+ by Standard and Poor's. We chose it as the best option for add-on coverage because, while the company doesn't offer a stand-alone watch or jewelry insurance policy, customers who already have property insurance through GEICO can add a jewelry insurance policy (including coverage for watches) in partnership with Jewelers Mutual.
As with standard Jewelers Mutual pricing, watch insurance through GEICO costs about 1% to 2% of the value of the jewelry. So, a $5,000 item could cost about $50 per year to insure. A watch valued at $10,000 in Los Angeles resulted in a variety of policy options, including these plans:
- $0 deductible, $200-per-year premium
- $100 deductible, $186-per-year premium
- $250 deductible, $180-per-year premium
- $500 deductible, $172-per-year premium
Once added to your overall GEICO policy, you can manage your jewelry insurance coverage online to make payments, report claims, and more. Coverage includes loss, theft, damage, and disappearance while at home and during worldwide travel and includes the cost of repairing or replacing your watch.
If you have existing homeowners or renters insurance with another homeowners insurance company, you may be able to add watch coverage beyond what's included in a typical renters or homeowners policy.
Best Claims Process: Lemonade
Rated 4.8 out of 5 for its claims process by ConsumersAdvocate.org, Lemonade has a 4.5-star customer rating from the Better Business Bureau based on 212 customer reviews. The company offers the typical $1,500 coverage for watches and jewelry through its standard renters or homeowners insurance policies.
For items valued above $1,500, Lemonade has an Extra Coverage add-on for existing homeowners and renters insurance customers that insures against accidental loss (including mysterious disappearance) and physical damage. This added benefit costs an average of 1% of the value of the item per year with a $0 deductible.
To insure their jewelry, Lemonade customers with Extra Coverage pay an average of $9.46 per month (with items averaging $9,037 in value). A sample quote the company shares on its website costs $5 per month (or $60 per year) for a watch worth $5,000.
Customers who need to file a claim can do so through Lemonade's app, and the whole process takes just a few minutes. First, customers sign a pledge stating that what they're about to share is truthful, then they submit a short video recording stating what happened. They'll then provide relevant documents (such as receipts, photos, and a police report) and bank account details for the money to be sent once the claim is approved. With a process so simple, Lemonade stands out for its customer-friendly claims service.
What Is Watch Insurance?
Watch insurance is a stand-alone policy or optional add-on designed to cover the cost of replacing or repairing high-end watches, typically valued in the thousands of dollars. This is often referred to as a "personal articles policy" by insurance carriers, which is a scheduled policy that lists high-valued items, such as jewelry, artwork, and other valuables such as watches.
Basic homeowners or renters insurance policies don’t typically cover valuables like these over a certain dollar amount, generally $1,500.
What's Required for Underwriting Watch Insurance
Since typical homeowners policies don't cover valuables beyond about $1,500, people with fine watches may consider purchasing what's known as a "floater" insurance policy to cover the exact cost of any item, in this case, a watch. If that's the case, you will likely need the original receipt or professional appraisal to determine the value of your watch, an additional expense beyond the cost of the insurance.
Watch Insurance vs. Watch Warranty
Many watches come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which, the Federal Trade Commission explains, is a manufacturer's attempt to stand behind their product. Warranties have limitations, however, as they do not last forever or cover all types of product failures and repairs. In the case of Rolex, for instance, the company's guarantee provides coverage for five years from the date of purchase, not inclusive of wear and tear, loss, theft, or damage. And no extended guarantee is available. That's why watch owners may want to opt for insurance for greater protection of their investment.
What Does Watch Insurance Include?
The claims typically covered by watch insurance include theft, loss, damage from fire, or other perils, with specifics varying by provider. Watch insurance is usually offered through a jewelry insurance policy, however, each specific piece you want insured must be individually added to a given policy. Some companies may require your watch or ring to be appraised first, while others may not.
What Does Watch Insurance Exclude?
Individual watch insurance policy exclusions vary by provider and policy, but most policies exclude coverage for things like wear and tear, war, intentional damage, or pests. It’s important to check with individual insurers and policy documents to confirm specific lists of exclusions.
How Much Does Watch Insurance Cost?
All of the insurance companies listed here quote prices that range from 1% to 2% of the appraised value of the watch on an annual basis. So, if a watch costs $5,000, insurance may cost between $50 and $100 per year, depending on the owner's location and whether you opt for a policy with or without a deductible.
Is It Worth It to Insure a Watch?
Investing in watch insurance makes sense when the cost to replace or repair the watch is greater than the expense of the watch insurance over the course of several years. Take the example of the $5,000 watch above. If it costs $50 to $100 per year to insure it, it would take anywhere from 50 to 100 years before you paid the full value of the watch again. Without insurance, on the other hand, you might have to pay the full value tomorrow, if something were to happen.
How We Chose Watch Insurance Providers
We reviewed more than a dozen companies that offer insurance coverage for watches to find the best in terms of comprehensive watch coverage, range of protections, transparency around policy costs, ease of filing claims, highest ratings, and customer satisfaction. We considered these criteria because they are the factors that are important to owners of fine watches and other jewelry as well as being recommended by expert jewelers and top insurers.
Insurance Information Institute. "Special coverage for jewelry and other valuables." Accessed May 7, 2020.
Trustpilot. "Jewelers Mutual." Accessed May 14, 2020.
ConsumersAdvocate.org. "Lemonade Homeowners Insurance Review." Accessed May 7, 2020.
FTC. "Warranties." Accessed May 14, 2020.
Rolex. "Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed May 14, 2020.