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Art Insurance

If you are starting to collect art or other objects of value, consider being insured against damage or theft. Broadly defined, art insurance can cover such things as:

  • paintings and drawings
  • prints and posters
  • photographs
  • sculpture
  • antique furniture, decorative objects, and rugs
  • rare books
  • antique weapons and armor
  • rare wine
  • fine jewelry
  • coins and stamps
  • vintage automobiles
  • other collectibles

Before buying art insurance, consider the following:

  • Review the policy terms, looking closely at the valuation method that the insurer will use to settle a claim. Run of the mill homeowners’ and business owners’ policies, when they offer coverage for art, may vastly undervalue your holdings. Rather than getting what you could have realized at auction for a rare vase, an antique chair, or a fine painting, you may learn with regret that your policy pays only enough to buy a reproduction. See our discussion of art appraisals.
  • Think of every sort of loss or damage scenario that may occur. Examine the policy’s fine print and understand what is covered and what is not. Perhaps fire and water damage are covered, but perhaps not the result of an earthquake or a civil disturbance, and perhaps only if you take certain protective measures. Perhaps theft is covered, but perhaps only if you have certain types of locks and security systems activated. The possibilities for disclaimers are endless, so take care before you accept a policy.
  • The better insurers will offer advice on how to display and store your collection in order to preserve it from physical deterioration and protect it from damage or theft. They also will guide you on photographing your collection and documenting its value with appropriate paperwork. These extra services can be worthwhile if your collection is of considerable value.
  • If the insurance company is not a household name, research its financial strength with insurance rating agencies

Finally, if you cannot afford to cover your entire collection, think about insuring just the most valuable items or opting for higher deductibles across the board.

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