For those of you who have shown work in a gallery, the artist-gallery agreement that you signed most likely contained a section stating who is responsible for insuring the artwork while on exhibit and in the gallery’s possession. If insurance was not provided by the venue, did you obtain your own or, like me, not worry too much about it? What about artwork in your home or studio? I have been thinking about this for awhile.
Art insurance seems to be mentioned a lot but no one really knows exactly what it means, what is covered, or how it works, including me. So, I did what we all do when we want to learn more – I asked my friends. Luckily, Kelly Rand, who knows a little about art festivals and who handles the insurance for the DCist Exposed Photography Show each year, was able to get me started and direct me to the right resources to learn more. And, this is what I found:
Just like any insurance, art insurance will offer compensation if a piece of artwork is damaged, lost or stolen. When participating in an art show or festival, always ask about the event organizer's insurance. Most of the time their insurance should cover participants' artwork, but this is not always the case. If their insurance doesn't cover participants' artwork, artists should, ideally, acquire their own for the duration of the show, sale or festival, or reconsider participation altogether. Sometimes event insurance will do the trick, offering wide coverage for both artwork and artist.
Before handing artwork over for exhibit, be sure to get a written agreement from the gallery or individual running the show, read it carefully, and ask questions about anything you may not understand. And, make sure it clearly states what protections will be offered while artwork is in their possession. For artists who sell on a regular basis or transport work to various festivals, business insurance may be an option.
For those organizing an art show, festival, or event that includes artwork, insurance is very important. Offering coverage during the event signals that organizers are serious about protecting its participants. Also, in case of a fire or theft, insurance will compensate artists for losses and hopefully avoid a lawsuit for failure to do so. Organizers can look into getting event insurance which can offer good coverall protection, which includes artwork as well as other protections.
Artists may want to learn more about insurance for their home and/or studio or check what a current policy specifically covers. Depending on the policy and what the insurance company offers will depend on what level of coverage is available. An additional clause may be necessary to provide the type of insurance an artist needs in the event artwork is damaged or destroyed.
I made a phone call to my own insurance company to see exactly what my renters insurance covers. Standard insurance policies offer personal property protection including total replacement costs of a certain amount, determined by the policy. Replacement costs would be based on the actual costs of the materials used to make the final piece, such as film, cameras, paper, and chemicals, not the price for which the piece would sell. It was explained if a claim was opened, the insurance adjuster would ask for an inventory and/or receipts of the items and determine value in this way.
Negatives and unique prints, however, are considered very valuable and it was suggested that I learn more about an umbrella policy or extra riders to make sure they are properly insured. It was explained that this type of policy would also cover my property no matter where it was located so if I were travelling, my cameras would also be covered if lost or stolen anywhere in the world. That sounds good to me, so I’ll definitely find out more. I will also take inventory of everything I own, including cameras, prints, negatives, film, chemicals, printing equipment, and framing supplies and keep in a safe place.
The idea is to protect yourself and your artwork – only you, the artist, understands the time and work invested in each piece, so if you are concerned about making sure you are protected if something happens, take the initiative to learn more. One of the best resources is to simply call your insurance company and ask questions. If you don’t already have home or renters insurance, ask your friends and parents who they use and start from there. It sounds intimidating (I only actually made the call so I could write this post!), but the phone call was quick and I learned a lot.