Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Art Insurance - Who Needs It?

by Kate Dardine

I’ll be honest… until researching this topic, I thought I didn’t need insurance. After all, my work is not valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. My studio is in my home. I sell my paintings through my website and galleries, and on occasion send my work to exhibitions. Surely my homeowner’s policy, the galleries’ insurance, the venues where I exhibit my paintings and Fed Ex all have insurance to cover losses incurred by fire, theft, flood, etc.  Right?

Wrong. According to www.studioprotector.org, “Do not assume that the building in which your studio is located is covered [by your homeowner’s insurance], either. Operating a business in your home may violate the terms of your homeowners’ insurance policy, and in some cases may void your policy. Read your policy, and ask your insurance agent if you are covered (and get it in writing). If you are operating a business in a separate building on your property, the chances are very high that your homeowners' insurance will not pay to repair or replace that building - even if you have included its value in your insurance payments.” 

OK, so the equipment, materials and paintings my home studio may not be insured.  How about my work in the galleries?

None of the three galleries where I exhibit my work – one in Colorado, one in Nebraska, and one in New York state – insure the work that they have on consignment. All three point out that the cost of insuring work is prohibitive, and that in order to bring costs down, they would have to opt for a high deductible – in many cases the deductible is higher than the retail price of the artwork. They each encourage their artists to obtain their own insurance.

My research shows that most “blue chip” galleries do carry insurance.  With artworks valued in the tens of thousands of dollars, having an insurance policy – even with a high deductible – is a necessity.  But for small galleries, many of whom struggle just to keep their doors open, paying for an insurance policy isn’t an option.

What kind of policy do you need?

An “inland marine” policy will protect your artwork in transit and while at the gallery or exhibition.   There are also policies that cover your studio, whether that is in your home, in a detached building, or in another location. These policies protect you against loss of your equipment, supplies, and artworks. They also protect you if you have an open studio, or give classes in your studio. A few companies offer “single event” policies – coverage for travel to and from, and while you are exhibiting at an art festival.

The website www.studioprotector.org has a lot of useful information on insuring your art business, as well as links to different art insurance companies.  In my research, two companies stood out – www.zncreative.com and www.actinsurance.com. Both offer individual event protection as well as year-round protection, averaging around $40 per event or $275 per year for a full policy.

If you do decide to pursue getting insurance, make sure you understand what the policy does and doesn’t cover, what the limitations are, what the deductible is, and what verification they need when valuing your work.

Have you had any experiences - good or bad - with artist insurance? We'd love to hear from you! 

Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 20 years. She is currently the newsletter editor and new customer liaison at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints.Her website is www.katedardine.com