Insuring that valuable piece of art

With some research and comparison,you can find a good insurance policy that can provide right cover

Written by Deepak Yohannan | Published: October 10, 2011 2:22 am

The Indian art scene has seen a burst of new artists over the last few years and even when the market crashed as in the great mini-depression of 2009,the art market remained stable. Study has shown that art holds demand in the market during an economic boom as well as a slowdown. Investing in art is one alternative investment strategy,that has been gaining increasing acceptance around the world and more so in India. Reports suggest that over the last five years the Indian art market has grown by more than 500 per cent.

Indian contemporary art is increasingly raising its profile internationally through art fairs and international shows,as well as in India. Even though investments in art have been what one may call ‘most beneficial’,art today remains a market understood by very few leave alone the valuation of art.

It is difficult to predict which way the markets will shift and which paintings will appreciate in value,and by how much. Having said this,art aficionados and investors normally adopt a simple buy and hold strategy. The holding period can range from a few months to a good number of years. But how can one be sure if their precious collection will stay intact and damage-free throughout their holding period?

This is where art insurance enters the picture. With increased emphasis on preserving and restoring art,insurance is must.

Many forms of fine art — painting,drawing,printing and photography — are fragile by the nature of their materials and are vulnerable to obvious and subtle forms of damage. Art insurance generally covers various risks like damage during transit or restoration,damage caused by natural perils,act of terrorism etc.

In India,insurance of art is based on a valuation that is mutually acceptable to both the insurer as well as the insurance company. Having said this,there is a fair amount of ambiguity surrounding art evaluation as surveyors are not really art evaluators. Art is not something to be repaired but something to be restored in case of a fire/damage due to calamities. So,while there may be certain teething issues in case you want to file a claim for the restoration; the rule of ‘caveat emptor’ i.e. reading the fine print will really help.

There are special schemes available,but you may have to do a bit of research to clearly comprehend what the policy is all about. This is because most institutions in our country also tend to consider art as part of property/personal assets — a realm of general insurance and do not carry the relevant expertise to carry out an appropriate evaluation of the piece of work that you hold so dearly.

Also unlike the global markets where companies specialise in art insurance,there are a few policy screators in the Indian market. So you may have to do a bit of research to find the right insurance coverage.

— Author is CEO,MyInsuranceClub.com

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