Many Americans have a passion for collecting costly antiquities, while others may simple inherent some valuable antiques from their relatives. Either way, these antiques are often not adequately protected under a typical homeowner's insurance policy. Being inadequately insured could mean significant financial and emotional loss if something were to happen to one of your antiques.

As far as antiques go, a standard homeowner's insurance policy may very likely include restrictive coverage and limits and have a valuation only on the actual cash value. Before you mistakenly assume that adding a personal property replacement cost endorsement to your homeowner's policy will provide you with coverage, you should realize that the endorsement lists several ineligible properties, including antiques, paintings, art, and memorabilia. There are also several coverage restrictions, such as excluding coverage if the antique is accidentally scratched or broken.

Here are six tips that may help you better protect your valuable antiques and collectibles:

1. Make an inventory of all your antiques and otherwise valuable collectibles. Take pictures and videos of each item, making sure to capture the item from all angles.

2. Ensure that your antiques and collectibles are appropriately stored and adequately secured.

3. For items of a lesser value, a general value assessment can be obtained for free online if you have a good photo and description for the antique or fine art dealer. For extensive or high-value collections, you certainly need to consider contacting an experienced antique appraiser. Most appraisers will need to inspect high-value pieces in person. The appraisal should include the replacement value, auction value, a description, and any comments the appraiser has about the item. Of course, this will most often involve a fee-for-service. Make sure the appraisal is done as per the requirements and codes of the American Appraisers Association -and- American Society of Appraisers.

4. Common, less valuable objects can usually be valuated online with the use of internet auction sites like eBay. This can give you a good market value for an item. Make sure you note both the asking and closing price of the item, but remember that the closing price will give you the best idea of the true value of the item.

5. Schedule an appointment with your insurance agent to determine if your existing coverage adequately covers and protects your antiques and collectibles, and, if not, what coverages you may need. Be sure to bring your inventory, photos and videos, and appraisals to the appointment.

6. Ask your insurance agent about a personal inland marine policy or endorsement, which can be added to your existing homeowner's insurance policy to schedule your items on an agreed value based on the item's appraisal. Although the above may also contain an exclusion for breakage, the exclusion can usually be eliminated for an extra cost.