- If you collect shoes, you know they don’t just serve a practical purpose—they can also be extremely valuable.
- Insurance is there to help you protect that value from damage or theft.
- You can add a rider to your homeowners or renters insurance or get a policy specifically crafted for couture and collectibles to protect your shoe collection.
Whether you’re a sneakerhead or a Carrie Bradshaw wannabe, if you love shoes you know that a good collection can really add up. After all, the Travis Scott x Fragment x Air Jordan 1 High dropped in the summer of 2021 with a $200 price tag and the resale value for a pair is now more than $3,000. Designer brands such as Chanel also enjoy a rich afterlife, going for upwards of $3,000 for a new pair and retaining a high value in the resale market.
However, insuring a shoe collection has its challenges—sneakers can rapidly shift in value with supply and demand, and damage to a designer shoe can be difficult to repair. And while you might get the full replacement value of a stolen or damaged shoe, there’s no guarantee you’ll actually be able to track down a replacement.
Here’s a look at the world of shoe insurance—and why you should consider it.
Why should you insure your shoe collection?
It may seem odd if you’re not a shoe fanatic, but shoes have been highly desirable luxury items for decades. Whether it’s featured on a runway or a coveted sneaker drop, the shoe market has only increased in value in recent years. In fact, 2022 research estimated that the global footwear market would reach $440 billion by 2026.
Sneakers in particular can rapidly rise or fall in value much like a stock, says Phil Terrill, founder of Sole Safe, a sneaker insurance platform in its second fundraising round. Terrill, based in Minneapolis, has a vast sneaker collection himself that he estimates to be worth as much as $70,000.
“We had bad weather here in Minneapolis this week,” he shares. “Some water got in the basement and I was viscerally panicking about my sneakers.”
That’s why he’s launching Sole Safe, an app that will appraise and insure your sneaker collection. While sneakers have their own unique marketplace, they share a lot in common with the designer shoe crowd, where a Manolo Blahnik kitten heel or a Christian Louboutin stiletto inspire the same passion. And both can exceed the amount you’re likely to recoup with renters or homeowners insurance where a basic policy will have a top amount it pays out per item. Unfortunately, they’re more likely to pay the sticker price of $200 for your treasured sneakers than the actual replacement value of $3,000.
“Consider the impetus behind coverage,” Terrill advises. “Is it peace of mind? What will happen in the event that something does actually damage your shoe collection? Do you know what you’re covered for? At the end of the day, if you don’t have the right coverage, you can kiss your collection goodbye.”
How to insure your shoe collection
Step 1: Have your collection appraised
First, have your shoe collection appraised by a reputable appraiser. Find an appraiser who specializes in clothing and accessories.
Tip: Use the Appraisers Association of America’s Find an Appraiser tool to seek out an appraiser who specializes in either costumes and couture or sports collectibles, depending on your shoe preferences.
Once you find a few appraisers who fit the bill, do some research. How much will they charge? What’s their past experience? Are they trustworthy and legitimate? Agree on the fee in advance and give them all the information you have on hand—receipts and repair history are particularly relevant.
At the end of the appraisal, you should have a detailed written list with each pair of shoes itemized. This document should be signed and dated and should conform to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice upheld by the Appraisal Foundation.
Step 2: Find the right provider
Let’s be clear: None of the options below for finding an insurer are cheap. If you’re looking to insure a high-value item that by its very nature is likely to see wear and tear over the years, it’ll cost you. Many bespoke insurance providers will charge you 1-2% of the value of your collection—so if you, like Terrill, have a $70,000 shoe collection, it’ll cost up to $1,400 a year to insure. That said, it may be worth the price to protect the investment you’ve made in your collection. Here are your primary options:
Raise your liability limit with your homeowners or renters insurance provider. This is a cheaper option than the rest, but also more limited. Any claims you make will still have a top payout amount that may not match the replacement value of the items.
“Schedule” your collection with a floater policy. This is more expensive than raising your liability limit, but you can add a floater policy to your homeowners or renters insurance and enjoy more protection. You will need to schedule each individual item (appraise and insure them separately with your provider), but this kind of policy will offer significantly higher coverage limits and better protection against losses.
Use a bespoke solution. There are types of insurance that focus solely on couture and other high valuable collectibles, including shoes. Terrill’s Sole Safe is still in the works (you can join the waiting list on the website), but AIG offers specialized coverage for couture, shoes, handbags and more. While you can insure your collection with your homeowners insurance or a floater policy, this kind of coverage offers special features for shoe collections in particular. AIG’s couture policies offer such perks as immediate coverage of new purchases, reimbursement of up to 50% of the scheduled value of your items and referrals for repair services.
Bespoke insurance providers are likely to be your most expensive option, but if your collection is valuable enough it may be worth it to enjoy a high level of protection and service that caters to your unique needs—and the needs of your shoes.
Plus, you may get additional assurances you would not otherwise get. For instance, Terrill aims to help his clients find rare replacements within the sneakerhead community.
“If you really love your 1994 Air Jordans and those shoes get damaged, you might not be able to find that exact pair again. Sole Safe is also looking to build a community of collectors where we could connect you with someone who has the actual replacement shoe and is willing to part ways with it,” he explains.
Step 3: Regularly review your collection and coverage
Once your collection is protected, make sure you keep that coverage up to date. When you acquire or sell a pair of shoes, update your personal inventory as well as your insurance coverage. Save your appraiser’s contact information—you’ll likely need them again as your collection grows.
What the claims process will look like
So the worst has happened—after your home was flooded, your sneakers all suffered mold damage. What’s next?
You’ll need to document the damage and submit a claim. Your reimbursement will depend on the coverage you chose—if you upped your liability limit on an existing policy, you’ll likely get a payout of the set amount you agreed upon.
If you added a floater policy, you will receive the scheduled value for each damaged item. If you chose a specialized insurance option, you are more likely to get the full amount you need to replace your beloved shoes and likely even some assistance in tracking down replacements.
Tip: Remember that normal wear and tear won’t be covered by any of these options. If you want your shoes to remain pristine, store them carefully and don’t wear them often—if at all.
Insuring your shoe collection isn’t a quick and easy task. But if you’ve invested your time, money and passion into a valuable collection, you will appreciate the peace of mind knowing that if something terrible does happen, you won’t be starting from scratch with an empty closet.