How do you insure something that's irreplaceable? There's an art to it, and your local independent insurance agent can help frame a coverage plan that's right for you. But before you have that conversation, here are some steps you can take now to help get your art –
whether it's one piece or a gallery –
prepared for protection.
1. Establish proof of ownership
Questions as to who owns a work of fine art can be incredibly messy, as have questions regarding its authenticity, and these disputes often result in protracted legal battles. So establishing rightful ownership of a piece – sometimes referred to as "provenance" – is critical to not just keeping it protected, but keeping it yours.
The best place to start is the artist, if they are still alive, to document ownership and obtain a statement of authenticity for the work(s) you own. If this is not an option, an expert on the artist may be the place to turn. And if you made your purchase from a gallery, make sure you've saved all documentation from the transaction.
2. Maintain a digital archive
Depending on the size of your collection, this can seem daunting. Fortunately, there is plenty in the way of software and services to help you create and maintain an archive, and access it as well. When you do, make sure to take high quality photos of the pieces, and scan or photo receipts and proof of ownership as well.
3. Talk to your independent insurance agent
The steps you've taken to document your collection will prove valuable as your agent works to determine which coverage option works best for your art. Make sure to ask about The Hanover's "scheduled item" coverage, which allows you to cover pieces individually, up to $25K in value, or valuable items coverage, which can provide blanket protection for a collection up to $100K.
4. Appraise your collection regularly
To get full value in the event a covered work is stolen or destroyed, it is critical to get it appraised regularly. Experts recommend every 3-5 years, but note that artwork often increases (sometimes sharply) in value upon the death of the artist. So, that should be considered a trigger to a reappraisal as well. And if your work has been found to have increased in value, make sure your insurance is updated accordingly.
Finally, make sure you inform your insurance agent each time you loan or relocate your art. It could help speed the claims process in the event any work is stolen or destroyed.
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