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Published on the 19th December 2023

The Importance of Art Insurance: Protect Your Possessions

Reading Time: 6 min read

The Importance of Art Insurance: Protect Your Possessions

Home insurance can seem straightforward at first. Pay a fee to cover your building and its contents, and voila, you are free to sleep soundly in your bed at night. However, for the person with a taste in fine art or other valuable collectibles, there’s a whole new entity to insurance that it truly pays to know. Get the lowdown on fine art insurance right here, and discover if your current policy is the correct cover for you.

Contents

  • Does Home Insurance Cover My Artwork?
  • What Does Art Insurance Cover?
  • Do Works of Art Need to be Hung to be Covered?
  • Inclusions & Exclusions in Art Insurance
  • Conclusion

Does Home Insurance Cover My Artwork?

You can split home insurance into two main categories: buildings and contents. The former insures your physical building against damage, the latter your personal property. If you have taken out contents insurance, this will generally offer you financial protection for damages up to a set figure.

That set figure will usually be an agreed amount between yourself and your insurer. It, of course, depends on the worth of your possessions.

Whether your contents insurance covers your art collection depends on the value of the pieces. Say you own several paintings, all worth £50 each; these will likely be covered by contents insurance. If your paintings are valuable, you should tell your insurance company how much art insurance coverage you want for each piece.

For example, your contents insurance could cover your household items, with an overall value of £25,000. This is the amount you would receive if everything you own were destroyed. But if you own expensive artwork, you must arrange single-item coverage and your contents insurance.

Valuable and High-Value Items

This same principle would apply to any valuable or high-value items, such as vintage musical instruments, jewellery, or antiques. Specify these to your insurer, take photographs if necessary, and keep any receipts/proof of value where possible.

Should these items increase or decrease in value, be sure to amend your home insurance policy. For example, say a piece of artwork was to double in price overnight. If you don’t update your policy, you’ll still only have the same amount of coverage as before.

A study showed that 54% of home-insured persons never update the amount their amount of coverage. It’s vital to keep tags on the value of your items to avoid any unpleasant surprises when claiming. For an in-depth look at other important points to be aware of, see our post on What is Home Insurance?

What Does Art Insurance Cover?

All valuable items can whither over time. However, artwork is particularly delicate and more prone to damage than most. Art insurance will cover fire, storm damage, or theft. However, it’s unlikely that insurance will cover you for natural damage over time if it’s your fault.

The issue of damage to artwork can be a complex one. Insurers won’t quibble if your house has been broken into and your artwork is vandalised. But they may object if you claim full or partial damage due to wear and tear caused by hanging a painting in direct sunlight or overly humid conditions.

As a rule, even those who have insured their artwork and collectibles to the hilt must take full responsibility for them. Usually, insurers only compensate for issues and accidental damage that is deemed beyond your control.

For a general overview on this subject, find our post on The Advantages of Home Insurance.

Does Artwork Need to be Hung to be Covered?

Many people mistakenly believe that artwork must be on display for their art insurance policy to cover it. Stored artwork is still covered, but the notion of responsibility still applies.

For example, things like scratches and water damage can occur to paintings if stored in an attic or basement. Therefore, it’s unlikely any compensation will be paid should this occur.

A general rule is that artwork can be covered no matter where it is positioned or stored. However, you should follow expert advice to ensure you do your best to preserve it.

Climate change is also becoming a factor in insurance premiums. The region in which you live will likely influence the amount you’ll need to pay. This is because drastic changes in weather and climate can affect artwork and its condition.

Storm-prone residents in Florida have discovered that high-speed winds can damage facilities and dwellings where art is stored with rising water levels, leaving art collectors at risk of mould and mildew infestation in paintings.

Inclusions & Exclusions in Art Insurance

Regarding home insurance – or any form of cover for items – it truly pays to read the small print of your insurance quote. This will help you to understand the finer points of your policy document. When it comes to insurance, it is particularly important to know what it will cover you against. The average art policy will protect your art against the following:

  • Fire
  • Storm damage
  • Vandalism
  • Theft

However, the issue of vandalism is another complex issue. If an intruder breaks in and sprays gravy on your best Van Gogh, you could receive compensation. But not if you or your partner do the same during a mild domestic dispute.

There may also be issues regarding proof and responsibility. For example, if you leave a door or window unlocked, there is a risk of theft, where someone could steal a piece of art. As a result, a lack of break-in evidence may mean your insurer refuses to pay out, given the theft was ultimately your fault.

Conclusion

Artwork insurance is a vital consideration for those harbouring high-value items. However, owners still need to take full responsibility for the safety of such items. Artwork insurance – or cover for any high-value items – exists to protect your art pieces. This is from accidental damage deemed beyond your control and not for any carelessness on your part.

Begin your own search for the right plan by looking through our clear and transparent benefits on our home insurance page.

GasanMamo Insurance is authorised under the Insurance Business Act and regulated by the MFSA.