Thursday, 21 July 2016

Should artists insure artworks in transit or just cross their fingers?

By Ken Shaw

So, you’ve created your latest artwork masterpiece. And now you’re elated because an upscale collector in Henley-on-Thames or Texas has seen the work on your website and wants to buy it - so why that look of apprehension?

My guess is because you won’t relax until your pride and joy arrives safe and sound. But what if it gets beaten-up by the transport company en route?

You always pack your paintings carefully, using reinforced packing tape, proprietary shipping boxes and lots of bubble wrap; you always select well-known and reputable shipping companies, so what can possibly go wrong?

You know it only takes a small accident, a heavy box or fork truck sliding against your treasure, or somebody drops it onto the loading dock…  So okay, surely you’ve insured it against damage in transit?

The problem with that, as you know only too well, is that shipping companies typically only offer insurance against the complete loss of a painting in transit – they do not offer insurance against damage.

The only way to insure an artwork against damage in transit is through a third-party insurer. There are many such insurers to choose from. But in my experience most are shipping insurance brokers more used to insuring a container full of widgets being shipped from China to Seattle.

Moreover there’s a sea of small print to swim through before you buy. And buried deep down in that sea of verbiage will be the dreaded “excess”. This usually starts at £250, which can be something of a turn-off if the painting is valued at £230 and the premium is £50.

So what is a responsible artist, or in my case her gopher, supposed to do? Well, until now there was only one option: send the shipment insured against loss only, and if it arrives damaged give the client their money back in exchange for the return of the wrecked masterpiece.

Thankfully, there are exceptions, and one I have discovered is Richard Thompson Insurance Brokers. As a result of a recent transaction with RT, I think I might have found a way to help artists in a similar predicament to us.

The usual excess at RT is the standard £250. They very kindly agreed to reduce this to £100 for a premium of £54.75 in the case of a recent shipment valued at £600. This made the deal workable.

But it gets better: having realised that this might be why so many artists use crossed fingers instead of insurance, RT have agreed to introduce a £50 excess for art shipments, for (in the above instance) an additional £27.38 premium.

So if you are a struggling artist searching for a way to insure your precious work in transit, you could do worse in my opinion, than give RT Insurance a call. Or if you know such a person, why not pass this article on to them? I stress that I have no connection with RT other than as outlined above and this is all my personal opinion, not business advice.

RT Insurance can be contacted on 01932 349 732.

To check out Tateh's artwork before it's shipped, click here -

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