Insuring your artwork

2 minutes

Insuring art can be a tricky business and in terms of coverage, “Art” encompasses a very big area. We’re talking everything from antique furniture to sculptures, from paintings to comic books. It’s no surprise that insuring art can be a complicated business, which is where a broker can help.

Something I hear often from my clients is that their art is only of sentimental value. Whether it was a gift or something that has been inherited, a repeated question is this: “If it were destroyed, I wouldn’t want to replace it, so why insure it?”. And my answer is always the same – “What if it was damaged?”.

Repairing is different to replacing.

To expand – furniture can be damaged by a water leak, a collection can be damaged by smoke, or a painting can fall off a wall. In these instances, you may not want to replace a piece, but having the right insurance policy in place will cover the costs of repair and restoration, or compensate you for any depreciation in value.

How do I insure my art?

You don’t always need a stand-alone policy to insure artwork, but it shouldn’t be insured as “Contents”. My recommendation is that any art in any form is insured under the “Art and Antiques” section of your policy. Ensure you have a detailed description of each and every piece of art and share this with your broker.

Consider an all-risks policy – meaning that you’re covered for every eventuality unless it’s excluded. For example, wear and tear or poor maintenance.

Consider single article limits

Something you should also bear in mind are single article limits. Your policy is likely to have a “single article limit” clause or section, which varies between policies. Any item over the single article limit must be specified, so should be specifically noted on the schedule along with its value. This could be one item – for example a painting – or a pair or set of items, such as a set of dining chairs.

Clients sometimes presume that when they purchase a new item, they don’t need to add it to the policy if it falls under the single article limit. This is incorrect. Just because an item falls below the single article limit it may still affect your insurance policy. You can read more about that in our article: What is a single article limit on a home insurance policy?

Do I need a valuation?

Absolutely. Like all things, demand for art, antiques, and collectibles goes through changes, and values fluctuate. Therefore, we recommend that you get an up-to-date valuation. Make sure the valuation is for insurance purposes and that documentation is kept in a safe, secure, but memorable place in the event of a claim.

We have a panel of recommended valuation companies that can assist by not only valuing your pieces now, but by also giving you up-to-date valuations going forward. Some of the insurers we work with will give a 25 per cent or even 50 per cent uplift for three years following a valuation to protect policyholders from rising prices.

What additional cover will I get?

Each policy is different, but cover available includes:

  • Depreciation – if a piece is damaged and subsequently restored, you can claim for diminished value as well as the cost of the restoration itself
  • Cover for a surge in value following an artist’s death
  • Short-term automatic cover for new purchases
  • Cover for when an item loses its value completely as you inadvertently didn’t have legal entitlement.
  • This is known as defective title cover.
  • Is insuring artwork expensive?

If you have artwork and/or valuables to insure, we recommend considering a mid-net-worth policy. It doesn’t always cost more than a standard policy, especially if you’ve outgrown your standard cover. 

Next steps

Ultimately insurance is about protecting what matters to us and nobody wants to be in a position where they’re underinsured and suffer a loss. The golden rules are these:

  1. If in doubt, ask your broker.
  2. If you don’t know the value, get a valuation.

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Whether you own a single piece of art or an entire collection, find out how we can source you a fine art insurance policy that suits you.