General Insurance

How Does Art Insurance Work?

Dustin Lemick


Dustin Lemick

Art is one of the most valuable and prized possessions in the world. It represents artists’ creativity, skill, and unique perspective and can hold immense sentimental and monetary value for collectors and institutions. However, as with any valuable possession, art is not immune to risks such as theft, damage, and loss.

Art insurance protects collectors and institutions, covering their artwork against various risks, from environmental damage or mishandling to deliberate vandalism or theft. Understanding how art insurance works, the different types of fine art insurance available, and the coverage and exclusions of art insurance policies can help you choose the right policy for your collection.

What You Will Learn

Types of Art Insurance

Art insurance has two main classifications: private and institutional. Both private and institutional art insurance policies are amendable to the unique needs of the art collector or institution. Consider the scope of coverage, exclusions, and deductibles when insuring artwork.

“Private art insurance is designed for individual collectors and their art collections. It offers coverage for artwork owned by individuals, families, or estates, such as paintings, sculptures, antiques, jewelry, watches, and other collectibles.”



Private Art Insurance

Private art insurance is for individual collectors and their art collections. It offers coverage for artwork owned by individuals, families, or estates, such as paintings, sculptures, antiques, jewelry, watches, and other collectibles. Private fine art insurance can also cover artworks on loan or temporarily stored elsewhere.

Homeowners’ policies provide some coverage for personal property, including artwork. Still, the coverage limits for art collections are usually low, typically around 50% to 70% of the total value of the building structure. This may not be sufficient for high-value collections. Most homeowners’ policies limit coverage for fine art, antiques, and other collectibles, often capped at 10% of the total coverage amount for all your possessions.

Some homeowners’ policies exclude coverage for specific artwork or damage, such as an earthquake or flood damage.

Institutional Art Insurance

Institutional art insurance is for museums, galleries, auction houses, and other art organizations. It provides coverage for art collections owned by institutions or entrusted to them by private art collectors. Institutional art insurance can cover many risks, such as theft, damage, and loss. It can also cover damage caused during exhibitions, loans, or transit.

In addition to current security measures and the collection’s value, numerous other considerations impact the cost of institutional art insurance. These include the history of previous claims, the reputation of the institution, and the type of art covered.


Fine Art Insurance Coverage and Exclusions

Fine art insurance policies typically cover a range of risks associated with owning and displaying art. However, specific exclusions may vary depending on the policy and the insurance company.

What Does Art Insurance Typically Cover?


Art insurance typically covers the following hazards:

  • Loss or damage to artwork: Art insurance policies cover loss or damage to artwork due to fire, theft, water damage, vandalism, or natural disasters.
  • Theft of artwork: Fine art policies cover theft, including stolen artwork that is recovered or replaced.
  • Restoration costs: A fine art insurance policy may cover restoring damaged artwork to its original condition.
  • Liability coverage: Art insurance can provide liability coverage for damage caused to third-party property or persons during the exhibition or transportation of art.

What Are Some Common Exclusions in Art Insurance Policies?

Art insurance policies usually come with a few exclusions to coverage, such as:

  • Wear and tear: A fine art policy may not cover damage or loss due to normal wear and tear, gradual deterioration, or natural aging of the artwork.
  • Damage caused by climate or environmental factors: Art insurance coverage may exclude damage caused by changes in temperature, humidity, light exposure, or pollution. Policy terms may include clauses requiring the proper art storage in a temperature and moisture-controlled environment.
  • Damage caused by war or terrorism: An art insurance policy typically does not cover acts of war, terrorism, or nuclear radiation. 

Review the policy’s terms and conditions to understand the specific coverage and exclusions. Art collectors and institutions should also take necessary precautions to mitigate the risks of damage, theft, or loss of their artwork. This can include investing in security measures, maintaining proper storage conditions, and practicing safe transportation and handling of artwork.

“Jewelry and precious objects, such as antique furniture or rare books, are often valuable or contain high-priced materials like precious gemstones or metals. These pieces often require high-value coverage because they are also at a higher risk of theft, damage, or loss due to their small size and portability.”


How is Art Insurance Priced?

The cost of art insurance considers several factors, including the piece’s current market value and type of artwork, the level of risk, and the insurer’s underwriting policies. Factors that influence the pricing of art insurance include:


Artwork Value

The value of the artwork is a critical factor in determining the cost of insurance. The higher the value of the artwork, the higher the premium will be. Insurers may also take into account the type of art, as some types of art may be more expensive to insure than others, such as:


  • Old Masters: Artworks from the Old Masters period, which spans from the 14th to the 18th century, are often considered priceless and expensive to insure. These artworks’ high value and rarity make them a prime target for theft or damage.
  • Contemporary art: Contemporary art, which includes works created after World War II, is often valued based on the artist’s reputation. This usually means higher premiums for insurance. Contemporary art can also be more fragile, as it may use unconventional materials or technology that can be difficult to repair or replace.
  • Sculptures: Sculptures can be challenging to insure due to their size and weight and the difficulty of repairing them if damaged. Large outdoor sculptures are particularly vulnerable to theft and vandalism.
  • Jewelry and precious objects: Jewelry and precious objects, such as antique furniture or rare books, are often valuable or contain high-priced materials like precious gemstones or metals. These pieces often require high-value coverage because they are also at a higher risk of theft, damage, or loss due to their small size and portability.
  • Asian art: Asian art, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, is highly sought after and can command high value. Due to their rarity and cultural significance, Asian artworks can be more expensive to insure.

Level of Risk

The risk associated with the artwork also affects the insurance cost. Artworks that are more vulnerable to damage, theft, or loss may have a higher premium. Insurers may consider the artwork’s location, the security measures in place, and the transportation frequency when determining the risk level.


The scope of coverage required also influences the cost of insurance. For instance, policies that offer broader coverage, such as worldwide coverage or coverage for art on loan, may be more expensive than policies with limited coverage.


The deductible is the amount the insured party must pay out of pocket before the insurer covers the remaining cost. Generally, higher deductibles result in lower premiums and vice versa.

Claims History

The art collector or institution’s claims history also influences the insurance cost. If the collector or institution has a history of frequent claims, they may be considered a higher risk and charged a higher premium.

In addition to these factors, other elements such as the insurance company’s underwriting policies, the size of the insurer’s art insurance portfolio, and the current market conditions may also impact the pricing of art insurance.

Do I Need an Appraisal?

Getting a professional appraisal is essential when insuring a fine art collection. An appraisal objectively assesses the artwork’s value and helps ensure your collection has adequate insurance coverage.

An appraisal can also help you establish the artwork’s provenance, which is a record of ownership history and its condition and authenticity. This information is critical for insurance, as it helps insurers understand the risks associated with insuring the artwork and establish an appropriate premium.

When selecting an appraiser, choose someone with expertise in the type of artwork you own. Use recommendations from art dealers, auction houses, or professional organizations such as the Appraisers Association of America or the International Society of Appraisers.

Appraisals should be updated regularly, as the value of artwork can fluctuate over time. Insurance companies may require updated appraisals every three to five years or after significant changes, such as acquiring or selling new works.

BriteCo™ Insurance for Jewelry

BriteCo offers comprehensive coverage with worldwide protection, no deductibles, and a replacement value of up to 125% of the appraised value when insuring your fine jewelry collection. With BriteCo, you can know that your jewelry is covered for accidental loss, theft, damage, and mysterious disappearance, without impacting your homeowners’ or renters’ policy coverage or cost. 

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Dustin Lemick


Dustin Lemick

Dustin Lemick is the Founder and CEO of BriteCo and a third-generation jeweler with over thirteen years of retail jewelry experience. He holds a Graduate Gemologist degree from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has in-depth knowledge and expertise in appraisal systems, diamond and gemstone markets, retail pricing models, insurance replacement models, and jewelry quotation pricing systems.