When Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans inAugust 2005, most people were thinking of evacuating to higherground.

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Charlotte Edmonston, a high-net-worth producer working in BatonRouge, La., was thinking about eggs. Faberge eggs, to be exact.

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One of her high-net-worth clients living in the path of theoncoming category 5 hurricane happened to own the largestcollection of rare Faberge eggs outside of Russia: a collection sovast that it can hardly be valued, let alone insured for anyreasonable amount, she says.

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“When Katrina came through, I was freaking out about those eggs.It was very, very expensive to insure them,” Edmonston recalls.Losing them would be a huge loss for the client, and even thoughthe collection was not covered under a collector's policy, theitems were also of great historical value.

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SLIDESHOW: 7 Luxury Toys for the Wealthy Client

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So she did the next best thing she could.

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Edmonston, who is the National Niche Managing Director forbroker Arthur J. Gallagher, phoned the woman's insurer.

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“Even though we don't insure them for their value, they'reinsured as contents,” she says. “Her insurance carrier sent aconservator to her house and had them boxed up and shipped out ofLouisiana, and stored until after the storm was over and things gotat least reasonably back to normal.”

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That was typical of HNW insurers prior to Katrina, says RichardKerr, president and CEO of electronic insurance exchangeMarketScout and founding member of the Council to Insure PrivateClients. HNW carriers “sent in people like Blackwater inhelicopters” to help HNW insureds pack and store precious items, hesays.

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Such meticulous handling of precious items has become morestandard with private-client carriers, as fine art has become morevalued as an investment during the recession. More often than not,HNW carriers are adding an art specialist to their private clientstaff to handle these collectible investments.

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Fireman's Fund added a Director of Fine Art position earlierthis year; AIG has a resident art collection management staff; andACE's Risk Consulting division provides management for a variety ofhigh-end collections, including Fine Art.

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“Clients are looking for a very, very deep well of experienceand expertise in capabilities,” says Jerry Hourihan (pictured),senior vice president, AIG Private Client Group. “It's complicated;it's not as easy as coming out with a new homeowner's policy.”

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His group insures more than 40 percent of the Forbes 400 richestAmericans, as well as 50 percent of the top art collections in theUnited States as per ARTnews, the oldest and most widelycirculated art magazine.

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“We insure over $40 billion of collections business,” Hourihansays. The company's collections worldwide include expensive andcomplex risks like multi-million dollar coin collections, or $100million art collections.

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You've got to have very flexible underwritingand an approach to providing coverage for these kinds of things,”he says.

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EPIC (Edgewood Partners Insurance Center), a retail property,casualty and employee benefits insurance brokerage in SanFrancisco, partners with Chubb representing its programs for theHistoric Motorsports Association (HMSA), an elite club of HNWindividuals who purchase winning race cars as the drivers retirefrom the track, says Stan Sanchez, a principal at EPIC. Then theyrace them.

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“They race their cars eight to nine times a year. The program isvery strict in what types of cars can participate,” says Sanchez.EPIC insures the cars on the track, and Chubb insures them off thetrack.

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“A lot of these cars that are on the track are worth $23million-plus,” Sanchez adds.

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Chubb Group has been insuring collector cars for 40 years, saysJim Fiske, U.S. marketing manager for Chubb Personal Insurance.

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Insuring these “rolling valuables” not only caters to thecompany's clientele but serves as a gateway to introduce Chubb toVIP consumers who may not already be clients, he says. Currentinsureds include the Aston Martin owners club in the U.K., and theFerrari owners club in the Netherlands.

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“It's advantageous to be a global carrier when your clients wantto take their Ferrari over to Italy to run in an event,” Fiskesays.

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The company also provides its private clients with a consumerlifestyle e-magazine, Accent by Chubb, which detailsvacation spots and collectibles that are of interest to the HNWconsumer.

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This perk has done a lot for customer retention levels:customers who have received the digital magazine have betterretention than those who haven't; and those who've read it andclicked through content have better retention than both of thosegroups, he says.

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“Our customers like to know that someone is an advocate forthem,” Fiske says. “We understand what's important to them.”

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Martin Hartley, chief underwriting officer and a founding memberof Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE), New York,recently fashioned a policy to insure a client's sneaker collectionthat includes rarities like prototypes and first-press models, someof which are valued in the tens of thousands of dollars.

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Sneaker collecting is a huge hobby worldwide, with its owne-zines, such as Sneaker Freaker Magazine, and tradeshows: New York City hosts the quarterly Sneaker Con.

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Knowing the passions and hobbies of the HNW individual isessential because many times, the clients don't think of insuringthese items, Edmonston says. One of her customers owns a yacht thathas a helicopter and two submarines on board for his passion ofpreserving undersea reefs and wildlife.

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“A majority of clients never think of those kinds of things asbeing exposures because it's so normal for them,” says Edmonston.“You have to really dig it out of them.”

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Another client forgot that he owned an electric-powered Smartcar, which he'd stored in the barn of his $12 million home inVirginia. “Somebody found it and drove it,” she says. “He called upwondering if he should get insurance on it.”

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“They're like that,” agrees EPIC's Sanchez. A large purchaselike real estate, which would be a major life event for mostpeople, is a normal day for the HNW client.

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“All of a sudden they say, 'We bought three homes a month ago inLas Vegas,'” Sanchez says. And now they want homeowner's insurance.“They'll say, 'We bought them for cash, so we didn't think aboutit.'”

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