Re:- Insurance Companies

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Posted by Jackson Landers on August 06, 2003 at 19:53:50:

In Reply to: Insurance Companies posted by Peter Cleveland on June 19, 2002 at 01:46:27:

I am posting this reply over a year after the original question, but knowing that people use this as an archive it seems like a good idea.

I am an insurance broker specializing in unusual types of risks (usually called 'surplus and excess lines' in the industry). I also collect Shin Hanga prints, rare books and other artwork. A lot of what I do every day involves covering fine arts.

First of all, your homeowners or renters policy probably won't cover your collection under the standard 'contents' coverage. Their intent is to cover general household goods- not museum pieces, which require different expertise and pricing on the part of the insurance company. Many insurers will allow you to add what is known as a valuable articles floater. This is typically a list of the items in your collection with descriptions and values. There will naturally be an additional premium for this extra coverage which is priced differently from general household goods. Many insurers will require appraisals for all otems, while others will have a cut off where appraisals are required for items valued at, say, over $10,000.

That gets you the coverage, but there's still more for you to do to protect your investment. There are thousands upon thousands of attempts to defraud insurance companies every year. So if you insure a signed print without an appraisal, then report it stolen and file a claim, they are reasonably going to expect some proof that the print ever existed in the first place.

You have the burden of proving your loss. You can do this through appraisals or good photographs. Lists and descriptions are useful. One thing that many people do is borrow a video camera and spend an hour or so walking around the house filming their stuff. In the case of ukiyo e prints, it would be a good idea to zoom in on the seals. The most important thing is that you do this *before* you have a loss.

As far as specific insurance policies are concerned, I would reccomend Chubb's Masterpiece policy. Their Masterpiece program is geared primarily for 'high end' customers. Chubb writes homes with values starting at around $400k, going up into the tens of millions of dollars. They will add valuable articles such as artwork, antiques and jewelry to homeowners policies, or they will often be willing to write a policy for just the valuable articles- if the total value is high enough for them to bother with. Meaning at least in the tens of thousands of dollars. The nice thing about their coverage is that they give you 'agreed value.' That means that you have a loss (theft, water damage, whatever), they will pay at least the amount shown on the policy. No bickering or arguing about exactly what the current market value is. Often they will pay more if you want to replace or restore the item and can prove that it will cost more than had been expected.

That is my two cents on insuring ukiyo-e prints. Don't expect your standard contents coverage to take care of it and be sure to document your collection ahead of time (keeping the record in a safe place). If your current insurer won't cover your collection or provides inadequate coverage, call an Independent Insurance Agent who deals with many different companies (not State Farm, Nationwide, etc. who can only sell you one product) and he or she will probably be glad to find you a policy better suited to your hobby.

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