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The Art of Insuring for Your Collection in 3 Steps

By Caitlynde Brancovsky, founder and principal of Chicago-based Marlowe Fine Art

There are many aspects involved in the field of collection management that can make the process of insuring your collection go smoothly and minimize risk. Here are a few tips we like to share with our collectors:

Prepare & Maintain an Inventory System - An itemized inventory of your collection, regardless of size, is essential not only for insurance but also future sales, estate planning, and appraisals. An excellent place to start is by assigning a unique inventory number to each work of art or object in your collection, similar to how museums keep track of their collections. This will also assist in tracking specific locations especially if collectors have multiple residences, loan to museums frequently, or make use of fine art storage facilities.

Update Your Appraisals - The art market is continually changing as prices, specifically for post-war and contemporary art, have become more volatile. Insurance should be adjusted accordingly and reviewed on an annual basis. We advise using specialists in specific genres for appraisals: for example, if you have a collection of works by Impressionist artists, an appraiser who specializes in works from that era would be ideal. Not only will he or she have more expertise in that market, but it will be more cost efficient as well.

Engineer Your Environment - Art needs proper care. Implementing preventive measures can often help avoid accidents and even insurance claims. Key measures to prevent common accidents include using professional art installers, having proper climate control, and installing central station alarm systems. A wide variety of components create the perfect ecosystem to house your collection. Location and placement of artwork are often overlooked for design or decorating purposes: however, sometimes these locations, even though they are aesthetically preferred, can increase the risk of damage, such as placing a large painting over an active air vent or a fragile sculpture in a high-traffic area. Being placed in direct sunlight is the most common cause of preventable artwork damage that we see. Damage resulting from raking light is irreversible and not covered by insurance. Fortunately, there are solutions such as installing clear ultraviolet protective filters on windows.

Art collections must be protected and cared for to last for future generations. While the process of insuring your collection can appear complicated, this outline of essential strategies is meant to help ease the process and safeguard your collection at the same time.

Marlowe Fine Art is an art collection management and advisory firm based in Chicago serving established and emerging collectors. Our company provides complete curatorial, cataloging, and collection management services at museum-level standards while catering to the diverse needs of our clients. For more information, click here.

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