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Insurance for Art and Artists

This was published 4 years ago. The content below may be out of date.

Insurance is a contract by which relatively small sums of money are paid regularly to protect against much greater possible loss. The idea is to enable you to withstand a loss by receiving proper financial remuneration. Whether you’re an artist looking to protect your art and studio practice or an art enthusiast looking to purchase insurance for your collection, we hope this will give you an insight into the complex world of insurance.

First off, let’s jump in to what sort of insurance an artist needs. Depending on what you do, where you do it, and what assets you own, there is an insurance worth considering. Insurance is a highly complicated and individual matter. Each company may interpret your situation quite differently from the other. Investigate several options before you settle on the policy and the company – and don’t forget to read the fine print!

It used to be very difficult and extremely expensive for artists to get insurance for their own work because of proving the value and that it existed. As times evolve, so has insurance and there are more options for artists out there.

Insuring Art You’ve Made

The instances you’ll need to insure work you’ve made is when it’s in transport to a collector or when it’s in exhibition. Not all exhibition opportunities and shipping companies offer insurance on your work. Insurance for shipping your work will depend on how you transport your work, the terms of the invoice, and the location the work is being shipped to.

Exhibition insurance is to protect your work when it is outside of your studio, either at a gallery or other venue, whether or not it is on display at the time.

When insuring artwork with a perceived value (what you’ve priced it at), you will need to have an appraisal done or a record of sales of similar work to show stock loss. A great way to keep record of this is an inventory list (which you should have if you’ve read our piece on pricing your work). You can keep inventory digitally in a spreadsheet or have a hard copy printed in a binder. It’s always good to have backups! There are some great free excel templates out there for inventory, or you can use a form template from GYST.

Another option for maintaining an inventory of your work is to use Artwork Archive, GYST software, Art Galleria, or Art Logic to keep your work categorized with all documentation and relevant information. You pay for the convenience of being able to access this from anywhere but it can be helpful to keep track of large bodies of work.

Whether you use a database system that does some of the work for you or you choose to manually track in a spreadsheet, this will help you keep track of your work and the value. This will also help mitigate the issue of proving whether or not work existed in the first place. All records should be stored in a different location from the work itself.

Studio Insurance

Studio insurance will encompass the structure and facilities where you make work in either a leased unit or within a workspace at home that is not covered by a home/rental policy. You can also insure the materials and equipment you use to create your work. You can insure against accidental damage to materials and equipment as well as the transportation of materials should you be taking these with you on an international residency.

If your studio building doesn’t offer it with your rent, consider liability insurance for visitors. This is especially useful if you have a dedicated gallery space open to the public or if you regularly meet clients or prospective buyers within your studio for private meetings. If you host workshops or classes from your space, you should also get insurance to protect you and your business.

Insuring your studio against natural disasters is highly recommended. Locally, James Black Gallery and Parker Street Studios both suffered fires in 2019. Insurance against this type of damage is highly important.

Insurance for Your Collection

Your homeowners or rental insurance likely won’t cover your fine art collection. Insurance experts recommend working with a specialized firm familiar with insuring art. Your art collection is irreplaceable. Art insurance helps protect your investment and also ensures that you can continuing collecting should something catastrophic happen. To prepare adequately for a quote, you’ll need documentation that the artwork is yours and what the value is. If you’re purchasing from a gallery, they will provide this. When purchasing privately, especially from emerging artists, ask for formal documentation such as an invoice or bill of sale. Other documents that can help prove ownership are provenance, a replacement estimate, photographs and the most recent appraisal.

Like an artist, you can use spreadsheets to store the information about your collection or opt for database tools that cater to artists and collectors, like  Artwork Archive, Art Galleria, or Art Logic.

Options for insurance for artists and art collectors in Canada:
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