You are about to leave Risk Strategies website and view the content of an external website.
You are leaving risk-strategies.com
By accessing this link, you will be leaving Risk Strategies website and entering a website hosted by another party. Please be advised that you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of Risk Strategies website. We encourage you to read and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site you are entering, which may be different than those of Risk Strategies.
Climate change has created noteworthy challenges for people seeking fine art insurance. Hurricane seasons have become longer and more intense. Wildfires and flooding, byproducts of climate change, are affecting broader swaths of the U.S. Even areas not historically prone to natural disasters are seeing an uptick in storm-related claims. To create the best possible outcomes for your fine art collection, planning ahead is imperative.
Catastrophic weather events threaten the homes of artists and collectors and can ruin artwork. Unfortunately, homeowners are facing diminishing traditional coverage avenues, leaving their valuable artworks exposed to the unpredictable forces of nature.
For those in catastrophic (CAT) zones, homeowners’ fine art coverage is becoming rarer as weather events like hurricanes, tornados, and wildfires increase. If you can obtain coverage, high premiums and exorbitant deductibles eat into the value of your art investments. We see premiums increasing anywhere from 10% to 50%, and sometimes more.
It is essential to talk with your insurer about coverages related to the types of weather events in your local area. What once may have been a $25,000 windstorm deductible may now be $250,000. Also, you may experience limited or even excluded coverages for perils such as windstorms, wildfires, or earthquakes.
Some high-net-worth carriers are moving business to their “non-admitted” segments, which gives them rating and coverage flexibility. This flexibility means charging much higher premiums than the standard filed rates and restricting coverages in the most volatile locations. Many standard companies are now out of the market in disaster-prone areas, leaving homeowners without coverage.
For fine art in affected areas, underwriters have become more stringent in weighing the risks involved. Depending on the values in question, underwriters may require a physical inspection of your home.
As a collector, you can mitigate your exposure by hiring a third-party catastrophe team to evaluate vulnerable zones. Or you can tap into your broker’s risk management resources for help to formulate a fine art disaster preparedness plan. This document identifies worst-case scenarios and the specific steps you will take to protect your art in each scenario. The goal: To keep your collection out of harm’s way. Without a detailed plan, some insurance companies won’t offer coverage.
While securing coverage is critical, you hope you never have to file a fine art claim. After all, you’ve worked hard to cultivate a collection that has both monetary and personal value.
While your home can resist some of the impacts of a catastrophic event, your fine art needs special attention. These steps can help your art weather the storms.
Build a list of art storage facilities and art shippers. Include their contact numbers and hours of operation, and their procedures for storing or shipping art. Identify the appropriate conservators who could provide a restoration estimate for damaged art.
Secure a trusted art handler to pack your art and deliver it to these vendors if you’re out of town. Make sure the art handler can access your property and art. If your home is in a gated community, provide gate access information to your art handler. Also list the handler as a trusted vendor with gate personnel.
Many weather events can cause power loss to your home. Exposure to water or high humidity can wreak havoc on many media, including paintings, photography, and bronze and wood sculptures. These generators can keep your systems running to help prevent damage.
Move any artwork on exterior walls to an interior, above-ground room, and keep your artwork off the floor. If you live in an area where wildfires are a possibility, we recommend removing your artwork from the home. Smoke, high temperatures, and inability to access your home increase the probability of damage to your artwork.
On a related note, conduct climate “due diligence” before loaning or consigning your artwork.
Heat can be a major problem for works of art. With countries experiencing an uptick in major heatwaves, some museums will need to enhance climate control systems. It’s not a given that all buildings have air conditioning. Cold temperatures, too, can contribute to damaged art — pipes freezing, power outages, etc.
Extreme weather events also underscore the importance of climate controls for fine art storage facilities. Unexpected, long-duration heat waves and related environmental variables call for short- and long-term art storage that can safeguard collections, galleries, or entire museums.
When planning a loan or consignment, also evaluate the risks of vandalism.
Climate activists are purposely targeting irreplaceable works of art to draw attention to their message. From protestors attempting to glue themselves to Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” to throwing mashed potatoes at Claude Monet’s “Haystacks,” these acts of disruption attempt to raise awareness for climate change by capturing the media lens.
Museums and galleries are walking a fine line between taking steps to mitigate attacks and maintaining public access to art. Institutions can place a work behind UV plexiglass or glaze the artwork itself as steps to deter vandalism. However, you want to weigh the risks carefully before signing a loan agreement. What type of security does the borrowing institution have? Are they screening visitors for cans of soup, spray paint, knives, or other potentially harmful items?
No area of the world is immune from climate change. Unprecedented flash floods in New York City and similar extreme weather events are affecting fine art insurance availability and pricing. Stay vigilant regarding weather trends and begin the renewal process early. You want adequate time to pivot if you need new or different coverages.
Have your art appraised every one to five years, depending on value fluctuations and underwriting requirements. Take photos of your art and retain your purchase invoices. And keep these documents in a digital cloud storage folder for easy access wherever you are.
For those living in identified catastrophic weather areas, you’ll find it difficult but not impossible to get coverage for your fine art. A fine art insurance broker has the expertise to get the coverage you need to protect your well-loved investments.
Want to learn more?
Find Mary on LinkedIn.
Connect with the Risk Strategies Fine Art team at FineArt@Risk‐Strategies.com.
About the author
Mary Pontillo works extensively with large private collections, foundations, and museums. She provides specialty advice on fine art insurance and how to mitigate climate risks.