Everything Artists Need to Know About Fine Art Insurance
The world is not always kind in the fine art industry, and that can worry artists who rely on their work to pay the bills and put food on the table for their families.
Fortunately, fine art insurance exists as a way to lower risk for artists in the event that their work is damaged or their work causes damage. Unfortunately, many artists don’t even realize they can insure their artwork.
Below, we’ve set up a guide to get artists thinking about why they might get insurance and what companies offer it. With this knowledge, you can go a long way in protecting yourself from financial hardship — letting you sleep easily at night and create freely in the studio.
Note that the information below is tailored for artists in the United States. Insurance laws and coverage changes depending on your country.
What Is Fine Art Insurance?
It’s no secret that people want to avoid buying insurance if they can. But whether it’s your car, your home, your rental, or your health, we rely on insurance all the time. With coverage comes a regular bill, but it’s usually an affordable one.
And while you hope you’ll never have to use it, when disaster strikes, you’re often faced with enormous costs up front — unless you have insurance.
Fine art insurance functions the same way as any other coverage. Companies will compute the risk and the value of your artwork, and they will offer you a plan with periodic payments. Then, if your work is ever damaged, lost, or stolen, the company will compensate you.
Insurance will also cover risks to customers buying from you and employees working in your studio, as well as all the materials and equipment you use to make art.
What Does Fine Art Insurance Cover?
There are two kinds of insurance you will be interested in: Assets and Liability.
Asset insurance covers:
- Art in transit
- Studio & materials
- Work on consignment at galleries
Liability insurance covers:
- Art show and fair liability coverage (most events require vendors to have this)
- Personal indemnity
- Product liability
Asset insurance will be helpful in the event of fire, theft, flooding, damage in transit, and other calamities that might lower the value of your work. Meanwhile, liability insurance covers risks that might happen to others. This is especially important for art fair and show vendors, as events will require liability insurance.
You need to distinguish between insurance for collectors and artists. Collectors will generally only need asset coverage for work they’ve purchased.
How Does Fine Art Insurance Work?
Like all insurance, your coverage comes at a price. Most insurers will charge either a monthly or annual rate. This cost will give you a certain amount of coverage per event — i.e. per fire, flood, theft, etc.
You will always want to document your work, equipment, and materials. This includes taking pictures and keeping inventory. When an item is damaged, you’ll be grateful that you have proof.
If you can, get your work regularly appraised. This is not always possible for artists, but an appraisal is another form of proof of value. Receipts of previous work sold and material purchased is also a must to have on hand.
Why Artists Need Insurance
Many mediums are particularly fragile. Paintings, ceramics, prints, and many other forms can be damaged in a myriad of ways.
To make matters worse, fine art has to get from the studio to the gallery or buyer, and in today’s world, those galleries and buyers could be halfway around the world. And once your work is in someone else’s hands, you might still be liable in the event of injury or damage.
On top of these concerns, artwork loses value in the same way any property can, from water and fire damage to theft or faulty storage.
When to Not Insure Your Artwork
For some artists, insurance might not be the wisest purchase, at least not at this particular moment in their careers.
If your art is a small part of your income, is inexpensive to produce, or is not a commercial activity at all, it might be overkill to purchase fine art insurance.
Artists who work predominantly in low priced items might not need insurance. Also, if you work and sell directly out of a home studio, your home or renter’s insurance might cover your work already.
If you think this might be the case, it’s important to check with your insurer to see if your work is already covered. Fine art insurance plans typically are tailor made for art, while more general home and renter’s insurance will include more exclusions and often limit payouts for damaged art.
Some people also choose to purchase an insurance rider on their home plan to cover art. A rider is add-on coverage attached to a policy you already have. This can work alright if you only have a few pieces you want to insure, but this will become expensive and complicated rather quickly if you regularly make artwork.
Best Fine Art Insurance Companies
If you are interested in buying fine art insurance in the United States, we’ve assembled a list of companies to look for. Remember to read all fine print before buying insurance to make sure it’s the right plan for you.
ACT offers plans tailor made for artists. These plans have no deductible, meaning you will not have to share costs.
IFA has comprehensive plans that cover your studio, equipment, product liability, exhibit liability, and all other many of artist insurance needs.
These plans are especially aimed at artists who employ workers in their studio, with worker compensation insurance included with your other concerns.
With the right insurance plan, you will be protected from many financial hardships that can befall a working artist. Taking care to do research, compare plans, and knowing your exact needs will empower you to get the right coverage at the fairest price.