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Insuring antiques & fine arts

Apr 05 2012

Wayne Texeira  Marketing Director, CFMP

Do you own antiques or fine arts? Perhaps you have antiques that have been handed down in your family from generation to generation or maybe you are a more serious collector of antiques and fine arts. Whether you have an extensive collection or just a few high value pieces, it’s important to clearly understand how your valuables are protected by your insurance. You might be surprised at the value of what you’ve collected over the years.

coverage considerations

Even the most comprehensive home policy has limitations on how it protects your valuables in the event of damage, theft or loss. Your homeowner, condominium owner or renter's policy has a specific coverage limit for your personal property, so you need to make sure that the value of your collection combined with all your other personal possessions does not exceed this limit. The big concern is that if you have a major fire that destroys everything, you need to have enough coverage to replace everything. Therefore, you need to assess if the personal property limit is sufficient.

Another consideration is that most policies have specified theft limits for jewelry, silverware and a few other types of items. Depending on your policy, theft limits often range from $1,000 to $5,000 less your policy deductible. Therefore, if you have items of substantial value in these categories, you need to assess if you have the right type of protection.

Beyond having enough protection, you also need to understand what causes of loss are covered by your home policy. Some policies only cover specified situations such as fire, lightning, windstorms, hailstorms, burst pipes, theft, etc., while other policies offer broader coverage for all situations other than those specifically excluded. Also, most home policies exclude breakage for fragile items such as glassware and porcelain, so if you have items for which you want breakage coverage, you need to be sure that you’ve purchased this protection.

The physical location of your valuables can affect coverage. If you have valuables in multiple locations such as a second home or office as well as your primary residence, you'll need to consider how your policy protects your personal property when it is not located in your primary residence. Some policies exclude coverage when in transit and may not provide coverage, if for example, if you lend items for an exhibition, so be sure that you are properly protected if your antique or fine art items are away from your home.

coverage options

To have proper insurance protection for your antiques, fine arts and other valuables, there are several options for expanded coverage. A smaller collection can often be covered using a special floater endorsement on your home policy commonly referred to as scheduling. This method provides broader coverage for additional causes of loss and does not require a deductible for listed items. For larger collections or items that are extremely valuable, a separate policy may be required. If breakage coverage for fragile items is a concern, be sure to specifically request it whether you schedule an item on your home insurance or purchase a separate policy because insurance companies vary in how they provide this coverage. Some carriers automatically include breakage coverage with the special protection while others only provide breakage protection if you specifically request it.

Because there can be so many nuances to protecting antiques and fine arts, the key to getting the right coverage is choosing a knowledgeable insurance professional, who takes the time to understand your unique needs. By working together with an insurer that understands antiques and fine arts, you can create a plan that protects your valuables for the broadest range of situations and ensures that you have sufficient coverage to protect your investment.

Photo courtesy of Skinner Inc.

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