You hear this story again and again: Someone cleaned out an attic or basement only to find a priceless artifact nobody knew was there . . . an original copy of the Declaration of Independence rolled up in a poster tube, a Picasso sketch hidden in the pages of an old yearbook, an heirloom diamond ring buried in a shoebox or a pristine collection of baseball cards stored in some old boxes.

In fact, in 2017, an attic find of unopened baseball, football and other cards stored in cardboard beer boxes for nearly 70 years sold at auction for $1.5 million. The highlight of the collection? Over half a million dollars in unopened baseball cards from 1948, which included rookie cards for Yogi Berra, Stan Musial and Warren Spahn.

But even if the card collection or other memorabilia you’ve held on to since you were a kid isn’t worth millions, it still has emotional value to you—and maybe some financial worth as well.

Sports memorabilia is fast becoming one of the most collectible categories around. Whether you’ve hit the jackpot cleaning out Uncle Charlie’s basement or you find a box of mementos you stored when you went away to school, these possessions all can benefit from specialized expertise and a little TLC. Along with the tremendous interest in these often rare items, there exists a specialty niche in the insurance industry focused on protecting them.

The collections insurance sphere is unique in that a tremendous emphasis is placed on loss prevention, preservation and risk management. Whether one owns a collection of Warhol prints, 1960s-era muscle cars or a Louisville Slugger that hit a winning grand slam, savvy collectors will want to do everything possible to prevent damage or loss to what is an often irreplaceable item. An insurance carrier with extensive knowledge is able to draw from experience and consult on topics as diverse as:

• Have proper appraisals been performed, and is the collection insured to value?

• Are proper storage techniques being employed to protect against temperature extremes, humidity and direct sunlight?

• Is a comprehensive inventory kept in a secure off-site location in case of a fire or flood?

• Are items that need to be cleaned or repaired sent to the proper experts?

The intricacies of sports memorabilia insurance coverage are just as important as these treasured items’ actual care and storage. Coverage details can vary from carrier to carrier, but some of the more important aspects a collector should look for are:

• Agreed value coverage, decided before the loss and guaranteed.

• Market appreciation coverage to account for rising values.

• Diminution-in-value coverage for partial loss.

• Automatic newly acquired coverage for new purchases.

Don’t assume these unique items are adequately covered under a homeowner’s policy. That Michael Jordan jersey that suffers smoke damage in a fire; the signed Bo Jackson photo that gets soaked when a pipe bursts; your cherished 1986 signed Mets team ball from the World Series that your dog destroys . . . all of these investments of passion should be insured properly so that you can be compensated appropriately in the event of a loss.

Sports memorabilia owners build collections for a variety of reasons: to memorialize their heroes, to diversify an investment portfolio or maybe simply to rekindle fond memories from their youth. No matter what they own, true collectors know that, like wearing a helmet or face mask, proper protection is key.

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading global insurance organization. Through its Private Client Group, a division of the AIG member companies, successful individuals can access innovative protection for homes, excess liability, automobiles, private collections, yachts and more. AIG Private Client Group also offers supplemental services designed to minimize property damages, safeguard fine art and other collectibles and bolster family safety.