Be Smart About Art

Buying insurance? Be certain you understand it

written by: Susan Mumford July 2, 2017 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan Mumford + Chris King's Blog 1588 views

Buying insurance? Be certain you understand it

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here

I have a fond memory from my gallery days of sitting down with the insurance broker each year to review the policy. And yes, I mean that: I enjoyed the meetings – and even looked forward to having them.

The thing is that reviewing an insurance policy involves assessing key activities of your enterprise, in consideration of what’s changed in the past year and what you accordingly need to adjust in your policy. It’s not only a useful exercise, but a reflective one, too. Lasting memories of those conversations include counting the number of art fairs that were covered each year, which would change according to the plan, as well as calculating the value of art on consignment at any one point in time to be covered (noting that the amount could be temporarily increased if necessary).

What about yourself? Do you have the appropriate type of insurance in place? Do you understand what’s covered and what’s not? And do you know what you need to do and do to meet requirements of the policy, should the worst happen and you need to make a claim?

Over the years, I’ve come to discover that many art world professionals assume that if they have an insurance policy, they’re covered in full. Wrong! This notably includes artists I’ve met who have a ‘public liability’ policy yet are unaware they don’t have other protections in place, such as contents (their art and other ‘goods’), studio kit (ranging from materials to lights), office equipment (computer, printer, camera, etc) and so on.

How best to get covered? A well-known saying comes to mind: “You get what you pay for.” By going to an insurance broker in which you personally know your account manager, that individual is there to help you: 

  • have suitable coverage (noting that many people end up being under-insured);
  • keep the policy up to date (with the annual check-in to review it);
  • understand what you need to do to be covered (from not leaving works of art on the floor to having records of consignment notes); and
  • successfully make a claim, as and when needed.

So when Be Smart About Art lost a laptop, hard drive and printer, thanks to power surges in Central London, our insurance broker knew how to present a claim to the insurance company with a successful result. Several weeks after submitting paperwork, a cheque for the full value was received.

While you don’t want to go about thinking about the worst that could happen, I urge you to put protections in place. Just think about New York City’s Hurricane Sandy, in which a number of artist studios and galleries were directly impacted. If you’re ready when the worst happens, you’re positioned to be able carry on doing what you love – yes, interrupted, but not utterly devastated.

When you get in place or next review your policy, have a conversation with your broker about all items and activities that need to be protected at what values, and what you need to do and have in place to adhere to the terms of your policy.

You’ll be grateful for thinking ahead when, and if, the time comes. 


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