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How to Insure Fine Art

Monday, February 29th, 2016

InsuringArtMost of us will never own a Picasso or a Rembrandt. But we may own (or someday own) a pricey piece of art. And that brings up the issue of how to insure fine art.

When you think of separately insuring a pricey item, many people think of engagement rings and other kinds of jewelry. But extra coverage can also come in handy for anything from a valuable stamp collection to an expensive fur to—you guessed it—fine art.

Typically, your art coverage is included in your personal property limit on your homeowners policy or renters policy. That should be sufficient for the vast majority of people who own fine art.

Yet maybe you inherited or bought a piece by a real master. If that’s the case, you’ll want to consider a separate endorsement for your fine art.

Even if your fine art is covered under your homeowners or renters policy, you may still want to endorse it under your policy. Doing so can let you choose a different deductible for your fine art than the regular policy deductible, modify the coverage or change how a loss would be settled.

Getting your fine art appraised

When it comes to how to insure fine art, one thing you’ll definitely want to do is get it appraised. An appraisal can help ensure that you’d be properly compensated if your art was stolen or damaged.

An appraiser may authenticate your art to make sure it’s not forged. There are several ways to check a painting’s authenticity:

  • Examine the signature
  • Check the artistic style and ability
  • Look at the construction and back of the canvas (A forged painting often has irregular or uneven paint on the edge of the canvas and is stark white on the back—forgers typically don’t vary the heaviness of paint used.)
  • Assess the past history of sale (known as the provenance) and any certificate of authenticity

A similar process is used if you own an original, limited edition print. An extra step an appraiser will check is the fraction number at the bottom of the print that indicates how many prints were made.

It’s a good idea to get an appraisal every few years since fine art prices can fluctuate. Make sure to save any appraisal documents with the bill of sale, certificate of authenticity and past history of sale. It’s also a good idea to take some photos of your art and include them in your home inventory.