Mainstream carriers such as State Farm and others who sell directly to consumers tend to cap payouts at $5 million. High-net-worth clients are instead directed to high-end insurers, usually with the aid of an independent insurance broker.

"Certainly this is not high volume, but you are talking about a very high service and technical capability business," says broker Bruce Gendelman of Gendelman Insurance Services. "What brokers such as myself do is to find the right fit for clients. That might [result] in a bidding war for their business among PCG competitors like Chubb and Firemen's Fund."

In the high-end business, service doesn't end after a client signs on the dotted line, industry experts say. The Private Client Group, for instance, provides direct support for the safe storage and transportation of valuable client property.
In an example of how exotic insured items can be, PCG's Katja Zigerlig spoke of a recent case in which a client needed to move a sculpture that was made out of food items, including soup and butter.

"We see a lot of contemporary art, and those pieces can be a challenge to transport," says Zigerlig, who specializes in fine art, jewelry and wine. "So after a long back and forth, we designed a generator to keep the art piece refrigerated to the proper degree in order to allow it to be moved."

Zigerlig also spoke of the need for constant appraisals, particularly in the event of a market or economic downturn. "We see art being used as alternative investments and we are also seeing a direct consequence of [Bernard] Madoff with some clients needing to sell cherished pieces of their collections," she says. "So we make certain they know the value of their possessions."

The company also offers insurance coverage that protects art collectors who purchase fakes or forgeries, or if they're the victim of other types of financial fraud, including Ponzi schemes and forged checks. Even donations to fraudulent charities and losses from telemarketing scams can be reimbursed, up to a limit and minus policy deductibles, according to PCG.

PCG's loss prevention services also cover personal safety. For clients who travel to areas with a high rate of kidnappings, either for pleasure or business, PCG will provide instructions on how to travel safely and on what areas to avoid. Ransom insurance coverage can provide up to $50 million in ransom payouts, in addition to compensation for loss of income and other expenses.

Liability coverage is also offered to clients who serve as board members for non-profit groups, who can often be targeted by lawsuits. In one case, a client who served on the board of a residential coop was named in a discrimination and defamation lawsuit by someone who was denied entry into the coop.

Coverage is especially important in this area because not-for-profit organizations typically operate on tight budgets and carry only minimal liability coverage, according to PCG.

Beyond providing sound coverage, one of the goals of PCG's programs is to minimize the likelihood of property damage altogether.