Museum Insurance

Insure Your Valuable Collections With Help From an Independent Agent

Ann Herro | July 23, 2018
modern art gallery

Visitors flock through your doors every day to view and experience your priceless collections and exhibits. Whether you display centuries-old artifacts or modern art, you need well-planned and comprehensive insurance coverage to protect everything that matters, including your building, your collections, and everyone who walks through your doors.

Museum insurance is not just one policy. It is a complex and comprehensive set of policies tailored to the needs of your museum and your collections. With the help of an independent agent, you can find insurance companies that specialize in museum insurance, so you can be sure your exhibits and your reputation remain in tact. 

Why Do I Need Museum Insurance? 

There are all kinds of museums all over the U.S. displaying items like fine art, rugs, glass windows, books, memorabilia, coins or stamps, rarities, jewelry, and many other items with rare or historical value. 

Many museums also share their collections with other institutions, galleries, or traveling exhibitions. What’s more, many of the items you display may be on loan to you from other institutions or private collections. The risks to these valuable works are immense, and with varying ownership arrangements and items on-the-move, your insurance coverage must be comprehensive and impeccable. 

At any time, your collections can be damaged by fire, theft, or vandalism on your premises. They can encounter any number of problems while in transit. Your collections must be protected on your premises, while in transit, and while they are being displayed or stored offsite. 

What’s more, you need to protect your building and all of its other contents, your customers, and your employees from mishaps, injuries, and property damage that can occur during the normal course of operating your museum. 

What Does Museum Insurance cover? 

Museums need insurance to protect collections, buildings, and customers in a variety of situations. What’s most important is that you leave no stone unturned in determining the unique risks that face your museum, and find the coverage that offers the best protection. 

Here are just a few of the scenarios that you should consider when thinking about museum insurance. Do you need coverage for any or all of the following? 

  • Items/exhibits on display in your museum
  • Items/exhibits held in offsite storage
  • Items/exhibits traveling to an offsite exhibit
  • Items/exhibits on loan to your museum
  • Your museum building and its contents (everything other than the exhibits or artifacts)
  • Employees, vendors, customers and any member of the general public visiting your museum 

First, you need tailored, specialized coverage for your collections, whatever and wherever they may be. 

Talk to your insurance agent about “all risk” coverage that protects your collection from a variety of perils (not just certain “named perils”). This means you’d be covered for any damage that occurs, regardless of cause, unless specifically excluded from your policy. 

It is also essential to consider “wall-to-wall” coverage that protects your collections (including items on loan) while they are in transit or being displayed or stored offsite. Your items need coverage while they are in the possession of freight forwarders, auction houses, storage facilities, or anywhere else they may be moved to or stored. Items in transit must be protected whether they are on a truck, plane, boat or any other form of transportation traveling to anywhere in the world. Certain countries, however, may be excluded from coverage, and you may need to adjust this coverage from time to time depending on the value of the items being moved and where they are traveling. 

Your museum insurance should include coverage for any non-owned or partially owned items that are in your care, custody and control, but are on loan from another institution, private collection, or that you have agreed to insure. 

You will also need a variety of more traditional business insurance policies to complete your museum insurance coverage. 

  • Commercial general liability (CGL) insurance offers financial protection if a person is injured on your premises or if someone (vendor, delivery person, customer) sustains some type of property damage as a result of your operations. If a heavy piece of artwork falls on a customer and injures her, this policy would cover her medical bills or other expenses related to the accident (not the damage to the artwork). 
  • Commercial property insurance provides coverage for your physical museum space (your building, if you own it), and all of its contents (office equipment and furniture, seating, guardrails and display cases, merchandise, etc.). It essentially covers property damage due to fire, weather, theft, and vandalism for all of your business property other than your collections. 
  • Business interruption/business income coverage reimburses you if you sustain a substantial loss of revenue or you must close your doors temporarily after some type of covered loss. If a windstorm blows down part of your roof and you must close for repairs, this coverage pays for lost income, salaries, and other expenses during that time. It may also help to pay for relocation expenses if you must set up temporary office space. 

In addition to business property and liability insurance for your museum, you will likely need a variety of additional policies or endorsements. Talk with your independent agent to determine if you need:

  • Valuable papers coverage: pays to reproduce valuable papers, such as financial documents and provenance documentation for your collections
  • Computers and media coverage: pays for loss of data or software as well as physical damage to computers and other hardware
  • Commercial umbrella insurance: provides excess liability protection beyond the limits of several other policies you might have, including commercial general liability or employer’s liability
  • Employer’s liability insurance: covers you if a current of former employee sues you for discriminatory employment practices
  • Workers’ compensation insurance: pays for lost income and medical expenses for employees that are injured on the job
  • Employee crime and dishonesty coverage: protects your business from the costs of theft, dishonesty, and fraudulent acts committed by an individual employee or a group of employees
  • Employee benefits: group health, life, and disability insurance for your employees

How Much Does Museum Insurance Cost? 

The cost of museum insurance for any one institution is nearly impossible to predict. 

First, the cost of insuring your building and your general liability risks will vary based on the location and size of your building and many other factors. 

Beyond your basic business insurance, the amount and type of coverage you need (and the cost) for your exhibits depends on the value of your collections and where they are displayed. Are your items worth thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars? Are most of your collections owned or on loan? Do you move your collections from place to place to be exhibited or stored? 

All of these answers will determine how much risk you are undertaking, and how much it will cost to protect your high-value items. 

Talk to an experienced independent agent who can uncover all of your risks and find the policy options that specifically address them. 

Find and Compare Quotes

An independent agent can work with you one-on-one to determine the types and amounts of coverage you need to protect your museum from a variety of costly problems. Your agent can get quotes from multiple insurance companies so you can evaluate the cost and coverage options and make the best choice. 

Benefits of an Independent Agent

Our agents simplify the search process for finding the right museum insurance. They’ll walk you through the handpicked policy options and explain the details and options.

Most importantly, they’ll be there for you when claim time comes. They know the ins and outs of the process and will make sure your claim is handled appropriately. 

The Lowdown on Online Quotes

Online quotes can be tempting. They are fast and easy to get—but are they accurate? And are you getting quotes for the right coverage? For business owners, choosing speed over accuracy can cost you. 

Online quotes can’t and don’t see the whole picture. They can leave out important coverage that will leave you devastated if something unexpected happens. And they can leave out cost-savings opportunities that an agent can help you take advantage of. 

Instead of getting an online quote, find an independent agent now, and get one-on-one consultation and affordable options for the best coverage for your unique needs. 

TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin

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