Friday, November 13, 2015

Top Causes of Fine Art Damage

Whether you’ve spent a lifetime acquiring a world-class collection, inherited family heirlooms or simply purchased objects to decorate a home, the condition of each piece will impact its financial worth.

Surprisingly, most art-related losses are caused by circumstances that are under your control to manage (or avoid). Along with distinct insurance coverage, a better understanding of the prevalent risks can help you manage your collection more effectively over time. Consider the following: 

  1. Installation
    Inadequate installation is one of the most frequent causes of damage to private collections, so whenever possible, valuable works should be installed under the guidance of a professional art handler. It is always good practice to use two hooks and two wires for hanging pictures and mirrors, as the redundancy adds stability and decreases likelihood of loss should one hook fail.
  2. Placement
    When deciding on where to install your art, avoid accidental damages by looking beyond the aesthetics of your home by considering the location of doors and pathways. Do not place objects in areas that are highly trafficked, above fireplaces, or beneath air vents. To limit long term damage caused by the harmful effects of sunlight, place objects out of direct sunlight and consider installing UV-filters on your windows.
  3. Environment
    Drastic fluctuations in temperature and humidity can have a negative long term effect on art and antiques as materials dry out or expand and contract over time. As much as possible, maintain a consistent temperature and relative humidity (RH) in rooms containing works of art. In homes with climate control systems, the environmental levels best suited for a general collection are 68-72 °F and a relative humidity of 45–55%. Consult a conservator for specific environmental recommendations for your collection.
  4. Theft It is no secret that works of art are attractive targets for thieves, although surprisingly, most art thefts are crimes of opportunity that easily could have been prevented.  Secure the “envelope” of your home with a central station burglar alarm with motion sensors and contacts on all doors and windows. For jewelry and other portable valuables, install a safe that is bolted in to the fabric of your home.
  5. Fire
    Every minute a fire burns it doubles in size, which means that early detection is critical to saving lives and property. To best protect your home, family and collection, install a centrally-monitored smoke detector in every area of your home and keep annually inspected fire extinguishers handy. Monitored heat detectors can be used in kitchens and unfinished basement areas.
  6. Storage Ideally, all items that are not installed in your home should be stored off-site in a professional climate-controlled facility. If that is not feasible, dedicate one room in your home for art storage only. To protect items from leaks and spills, never store anything on the floor, even temporarily. If pictures need to be stacked, stack them front-to-front and back-to-back, alternating vertically and horizontally to minimize the chance of one pushing into another.
  7. Emergencies Writing a collection-specific emergency plan will ensure that you and your service providers act efficiently and effectively to protect your collection before and after a catastrophe.  A standard plan includes: a priority list of items to be removed; a communication list with contact information; a list of tools and equipment needed; wrapping and handling instructions; the locations of gas, water, and electricity shut-offs, with instructions; training an emergency response team; and a conservation plan for the post-event period.
  8. Documentation Maintaining up to date inventory records reduces the likelihood of mysterious disappearance and an inventory with images helps expedite the claims process in the unfortunate event of a loss. The format you use can be as simple as a comprehensive list, but we recommend entering descriptions and images into a secure computerized collection management database, with a copy stored off site.
  9. Appraisals The value of your collection will increase over time, regardless of seasonal or annual trends. Since appraisals are used as the basis for insurance coverage, if a piece is damaged, lost or stolen, an outdated value could limit your ability to be fully compensated under your insurance policy. Typically, we recommend that appraisals be updated no less than every three to four years. Consult your appraiser to find out what time-frame is recommended for your collection.
At the Bryan Insurance Agency, we have risk management experts in high value homes and fine art collections. We are the leading insurance agents for home insurance in Long Island and New York. Contact us today to find out how to protect your priceless art collection. 888-565-2212 or 

Reprinted with permission from AIG Premier Client Group. Bryan Insurance Agency is a licensed agent of AIG Premier Client. For more information, visit 

1 comment:

  1. I have been thinking of going to an insurance broker for a while now. After reading this, I am sold. I like the idea of being able to get advice in addition to the quotes themselves. That would be even more helpful for my husband and I, we just have to find the right broker in our area.
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