Art Loss

Like with all life investments, it is important to protect your fine art against loss or damage. Having your works of art professionally appraised is absolutely necessary for future adequate coverage. A great place to start is the Art Loss Register (ALR), which is an evolving, computerized international database that contains information about lost or stolen art, antiques and collectables. Operated by an independent London based corporate company, ALR provides services pre and post loss. In the instance that your fine art is lost/stolen/destroyed, have an art appraiser determine replacement value.

Stolen, damaged or destroyed art is cause for an insurance claim. In instances where the art has been damaged and not lost or destroyed, a qualified fine art conservator is needed to adequately assess the current condition of the piece. There are many factors that can contribute to the overall value of a piece of art. From the artist, to the condition, to the rarity of the piece, and more, all of these variables attribute to the value of a piece of art and must be extensively and highly professionally assessed.

Art can increase in value or depreciate due to several varying conditions. Because of this, coverage in art insurance policies might increase or decrease accordingly as well. Keeping your insurance provider aware of any changes/updates is crucial in terms of coverage.

The largest single loss to the art market was due to Hurricane Sandy, and victimized artist Peter Max. Specializing in graphic art, Max’s warehouse located within the Chelsea district in New York was flooded by Hurricane Sandy and resulted in over $500 million in damaged art. This loss effects the value of Max’s remaining artwork.

Similar to other insurance claims, proper inventory and documentation is imperative to a sufficient claim. Photographs and notaries contribute to a complete inventory.

If you have even a piece or two of art you treasure, it is very important that you consider adequate insurance. It cannot be assumed that because you have insurance on your home, condo or business that your artwork will be paid in the event of the loss. Many policies have limitations or exclusions and it is crucial that you discuss artwork coverage with your agent.

Here are a few more tips:

  • If art has been stolen the theft should be immediately registered with one of the art loss databases such as the Art Loss Register, Interpol, and the National Stolen Art File, which is run by the FBI.
  • Some insurance companies offer a buy-back provision. If an artwork is stolen and later recovered, this gives the original owner the opportunity to regain title. This can be particularly important if the work of art has gone up in value since the time of the theft. For example, if a painting was stolen when it was worth $50,000 and at the time of recovery it was worth $100,000, the original owner could pay back the insurance company the $50,000 and then retrieve their property now worth the full $100,000.
  • Make sure that you have insurance on the piece after purchase but during transit. Many losses happen before you even have the beautiful art to display.
  • If you have a loss to artwork, make sure you know if the insurance company is properly indemnifying you.

If your fine art has been lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Merlin Law Group. We fight on behalf of the policyholder and would be happy to provide you with a free consultation of your art insurance claim. Please call, toll-free anywhere in the nation at 877-449-4700.

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