Catalog your gear for yourself and your family


This should go without saying. You catalog gear for multiple reasons. First, for insurance. Second, in case you die. It’s a morbid thought but it’s the reality of life. If I died, I’d have over $12,000 worth of gear, Magic cards, and records that my family wouldn’t even know where to start with. I just sent the links of my catalogs to my dad: has a ”my collection” feature and Discogs has the same feature for CDs and records.
Wife and I set up a trust a few years back where we went through the process of what we own and how to disburse and dispose of it all. There is very little I own that my kids are interested. My son had a favorite guitar so I gave it to him. No point in waiting till I'm dead for him to enjoy it. I've left instructions to give away all the instruments except for a couple of tenor guitars I've built. I've suggested a couple of non-profit organizations that teach music. The stuff I built are probably the only things I own my son and daughter are interested in. Daughter is more interested in some of the hand made furniture.

While I have money in my music gear, it's the tools I have both personal and work that is likely to get sold off on the cheap. The trust has provisions for the corporation but hopefully I'll dissolve it when I retire as it is the only complicated part of the trust. Upon one of our deaths, there is a binder with instructions to follow on how to execute the trust and will for both of us.

Just finished settling the estate of my brother-in-law and even with a will, it was a lot to handle for my nieces and nephew, so I ended up taking care of filing all the paperwork and asset transfers. The trust is a way to make this easier for my wife and kids (one never knows but statistically, I'll probably kick off first) .
I found that normal home owners insurance will not cover all of my equipment so check the sub clauses-especially concerning "electronics". Don't forget "replacement" cost can be considerably higher than what you originally paid for an item. Either way you may have to look at specialty insurance once you reach a certain point. Also if you are generating revenue from use, you may want to expense both the equipment and the insurance that way.

My older brother is a CFP(finance guy) and also certified estate planner and I've given him carte blanche to liquidate pretty much everything to pay off all my expenses and anything left over split equally among surviving sibs(don't have kids of my own as of now) .

I have been toying for years with the idea of leaving one instrument to each of my surviving siblings so they have an object to connect with when I am gone. At this point I have enough of them f(guitars, etc), to cede one to my siblings children as well. The thing is, I realize that it's my ego I would be stroking doing something like that, so right now I am thinking that I will tell him that if any of the sibs want a particular item or three that it should be gifted to them. No limits as, luckily for me, my sibs and I have never been the type of family that fights over this kind of thing. Anyway, there should be plenty to pay off my expenses no matter what , and I will be gone so I am not too worried.
It would add up. I've spent a lot of money on my music stuff. My big drum kit cost thousands. The 18" floor tom alone was £500, and made to order.
Any relative sifting through my stuff wouldn't have a clue of the value, or what goes with what.
It generally loses value, and wears out over time, but there are some gems in there.

As for insurance, I don't believe in it. Insurance companies are just crooks.
Insurance is just gambling. You give them money based on them working out how likely it is you will claim, and how risky it is. A knew a guy years ago who was an underwriter for Lloyds of London - he took the risks personally. I asked him if he had insurance, and he laughed. If the risk is high, the premiums are higher and the risk is too high, then they won't take the chance - just like gambling. Do you feel lucky?
Crooks? Really? It is a business based on calculated loss percentages. Now if you need insurance for loss or not(?), that is another question only you can figure out based on risk tolerance and economic circumstances.

What about other types of insurance? My business pays for all sorts of insurance starting with liability. Would you hire a contractor that didn't carry liability insurance? How about workers compensation for his employees? Are these just scams? I hire an uninsured roofer and one of his guys falls off the roof, should I be the one liable?

I run what is essentially a labor contracting business in AV. I have buildings in Boston I cannot even gain access to without having my insurance company issue a certificate of insurance to the buildings management outlining coverage from vehicle, liability and workers comp. The companies that I have contracts with have very specific requirements for insurance with minimums of $3 million in liability. I carry riders of all sorts to include all completed works, client indemnification and baily's coverage. No insurance, I'm out of business.

Can't get a mortgage or car loan without insurance. Scam?
Can't get a mortgage or car loan without insurance. Scam?
Yes, a scam!!!

For businesses and Commercial buildings, you have to get insurance.
In the UK, we're forced to have car insurance to keep a car on rthe road.

I've had 5 home mortgages in my time, and the lenders insist that you have to insure the home,
and they also insist that you insure it through their own nominated insurer. Thats where the scam comes in.
When I paid off my last mortgage, many years ago, I received a renewal quote from the insurer.
In the terms, it said that repairs would be done to THEIR satisfaction.
Hold on a minute, what about my satisfaction?
I declined to take up their renewal offer.
They then wrote an offensive letter to me saying that if I do not renew with them, they would
tell my mortgage lender.
I no longer had a mortgage lender, so they can't bully me.
They are just crooks.
You gotta be exact in insurance. Have a Neumann U87 and you catalog is as “condenser Mic”? You’re getting a $30 Behringer. Catalog it as Neumann condenser mic? You’re getting a TLM 102. Being exact helps you, and the insurance company doesn’t like it, but they don’t have a choice when you do it.
I tried to get insurance for the building on my office, but that can only be done by the owner/agent, so I have to pay his premium, and have no info at all on what kind of damage to the building is covered or limited. Upstairs is an insurance agents office - they too are insured through the owner, which is ironic.

However - I do understand the people loaning money being hot on insurance, because if it goes wrong, it lands on their shoulders. I don't consider insurance a scam or a fraud, as it is regulated in the UK. Of course though, they are in business and want to make, not lose money. I cannot really argue with their 'cause'. They actually have to tell customers all sorts of things they'd love not to, and their is an ombudsman too. If you don't wish to have it, and it is NOT a requirement in law, just a requirement by lenders or other interested parties, then don't, and take the risk. If you get scared by risk, arrange insurance. You must remember though, if the agreement with landlords, lenders and other parties stipulates it, they also have a right to check you have what they consider appropriate insurance. That's just how it is.
The business model (at least in the US) for insurance companies is "collect premiums and deny claims" - that simple. They're not there to help us out in times of trouble, because that hits their bottom line, i.e., don't believe the smiling, wise/warm/funny actors (or CGI animals) in their ads. And, some are more ruthless about one or the other (or both!) of those operating tenets, so you have to choose with a bit of research and "eyes wide open."

I have an inventory that's never quite up to date, but close enough, and I use that to decide what to put on the personal items rider on home insurance, complete with pictures, serial numbers (if any) and screenshots of current replacement costs. I figure that's the best I can do. (And, the wife and kids have the passwords to my computers and cloud storage, so they can figure it out when/if needed, i.e., if it's a "surprise" and I haven't managed to "divest" myself of these little things by then. But, I also figure I am not going to be in a position to worry about it, and, really, it's not a significant bit of money compared to the house, say. No pre-war Martin guitars, original Neumanns, or that sort of stuff.)
There are so many types of insurance that I feel blanket statements are bound to be misleading. In most cases it is "the house" taking a bet that something that might go wrong does not happen. If available the company will use actuarial data to determine liability and therefore, cost to the insured. But they will take on just about any liability if given enough money.

There are insurance requirements by law and these vary from location to location. If I have to pay for it by law, I feel that profit taking should be regulated, however, IME most regulating bodies are susceptible to these companies being less that transparent in their expense claims which they use to apply for rate increases. There are a lot of loopholes, some of which feel like they are unfair to the consumer. If you check the records of attempts to legislate and regulate this industry(along with banking and finance) you will find massive amounts of money spent on convincing our elected reps that self regulation is best and/or that this or that will destroy the industry leaving those in need without insurance, which seems despicable since many can't afford coverage now.

My point in my original post was not that insurance is needed, or even a good idea-just that if you already think your equipment is covered under your basic home policy please read carefully to find out how much or how little is covered so that you can make an informed choice as Keith was pointing out.

Also IMO the word "insurance" is misleading. You can't "insure" that something won't happen. As has been stated, it's an odds based system and the "house" always wins.

Final bit of advice: always have back up copies of your inventory in multiple locations!
I do keep pics and receipts for all my gear, but no special insurance as I can't even afford apartment renter's policies these days.

I've only had to make one claim for music gear. In the late 80's, I was gigging regularly. I played bass and doubled as our sound man. So I would take the Fostex 450 board I was using in my bedroom studio to each gig and run that through our own Traynor PA, or send it to the house. I would bring it home each night wrapped in a heavy blanket, not only for cushioning, but for disguising as I carried it to and from.

One morning, I arrived home around 1 AM and was just too tired to unload so I left it 'til "morning". About an hour later, the Police were knocking at my door telling me they spotted my driver's door glass shattered. I ran out and the 450 board was gone.

I was living in an apartment at the time and the car was parked in a large lot about 60 ft. from our patio. Strangely, it was our homeowner's insurance which covered and reimbursed me for the gear after I supplied an estimate for replacement. They covered damage and theft to our autos within a 100 ft. radius of our residence - no questions asked.

I was reimbursed the full replacement value, which I then applied to the purchase of a Tascam 688 MIDI Studio.

I miss that 450 - wish I still had it.