You are completely vulnerable and in an impossible position. You should immediately give all your valuable bikes to me for your piece of mind. That way you are also spared the mental torture of ruining your valuable collection by riding it.
Failing that, check your renter's insurance for any limitations and deductibles applicable to bikes. There often is a limit of, say, $300 per item and $1,000 total per occurence. One good bike will blow both limits. Your agent should be able to offer a separate rider for your collection, based on the appraised value. This will often cover casualty damage (fire, flood, tornado, etc) as well as theft.
Then remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. A video tape of your collection will ensure you have plenty of evidence to establish the value of your machines if you have to file a claim and the company fails to accept the prior appraisals. (Most companies will use the appraisals to set the premium, but won't agree to be bound by them when it comes time to pay out.)
Finally, document the exact components on each bike, as the parts are often worth more than the frame. Serial numbers or patent numbers will enable you to present harder evidence of value.
The best move you're making is to get this all set up before the loss. Remember that insurance is a contract, and you get only what the contract says you get. After all Insurance Companies only make money when they receive premiums and don't pay claims.
Tom Adams, Kansas City
Well, my brother just had his house burglarized in Chicago and lost his 3 bikes. They were nothing really special, unlike the classics many of us own. Considering how ignorant many people are today concerning bikes and their values (or replacement value), I want to seek your collective thoughts on insuring my collection properly.
I imagine it is best to get a knowledgeable LBS to sign off on appraisals for replacement value. I would then like to list these very detailed appraisals with my insurance company and make sure they will cover them as such. I do not own a home yet but have insurance on my apartment and gun collection. What do you recommend beyond or above this, and anybody have any true life stories on bike theft of classics (hard to replace if at all category of bikes) and how your insurance did or did not handle this situation?
Tony "feeling naked" Zanussi