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Coins' value should be investigated

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 12:01 am

Q.: When my parents died, some coins were passed on to me. I've just held on to them, not really having any interest in them. I saw in the paper that an antique show is coming to one of the local hotels in a few months; the dealers are looking for antique furniture, accessories, gems and coins. I am thinking about taking in my coins to see what they are worth and maybe even selling them. They look to be in good condition, so I'm hoping they are worth something. Do you think this is a good place to get an idea of their value? I don't know if I should hold on to them or sell them. – S.T. in New Mexico

A.: One thing you should know about coins is that they are rated – and their value is determined – by their condition. Unfortunately, your idea of "good condition" may not be the same as a dealer's. In fact, what looks like good condition to you is likely a low grade. You can get an idea of your coins' value, if any, before going to the antique show by visiting any bookstore that has a variety of coin books and magazines. Of course, there's always the Internet. These coins are nice things to hang on to, but as an investment, I wouldn’t get my hopes up too much.

Q.: I have heard you talk about umbrella policies and would like to get one. I’m not sure if it’s a problem or not, but I have my car insurance with one company and my homeowners insurance with another. Should they both be with the same company to have an umbrella policy? – Reader, via email

A. As you know, I am very much in favor of an umbrella policy, which in general raises your liability insurance from the paltry amount most people carry on their cars and homes to a respectable several million dollars. That may sound like a lot of money, but it’s not difficult to incur that kind of damage in today’s world. Although it is not necessary to have your auto and homeowners policies with the same company, it does make the umbrella underwriting and claims procedures much easier. Unless there is a significant reason why you have your auto and homeowners policies with different companies, I would choose one company and have it write all three policies.

Send questions to bruce@ or to Smart Money, PO Box 7150, Hudson, FL 34674. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.