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Instrument Insurance

Instruments: I need help choosing a new insurance company.

From E. Smith
Posted February 12, 2008 at 06:54 PM

I just received a notice that our instrument insurance company (Travelers/Heritage) is canceling our policy because of a poor loss ratio. It's true we had some extraordinary problems over the past few years, but we cannot afford to be without a policy.

Does anyone have suggestions for an insurer? I've stayed away from Clarion because they say the only insure instruments for musicians over age 18 and our most expensive instrument is played by a daughter under age 18. But it occurs to me that the instrument legally belongs to me, not her.

Any suggestions, recommendations?

From Kristian Rahbek Knudsen
Posted on February 12, 2008 at 07:34 PM
I have used Lark for many years and been happy with them. They insure all over the world in your local currency:
http://www.larkinsurance.co.uk/musicalinstruments.html
From Hans Pluhar
Posted on February 12, 2008 at 09:04 PM
I have also been using Lark for a long time. I can recommend them too.

hans

From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on February 12, 2008 at 10:01 PM
I have used Heritage Instrument Insurance for many years. A lot of the big shops use it too.
From E. Smith
Posted on February 12, 2008 at 11:10 PM
Pieter, we've used Heritage, too, but they are dumping us! We had a couple of claims over the past three years, so I guess it is like car insurance. (These were not enormous claims, but I guess their underwriter, which is Traveler's, makes the decisions.)

I've never heard of Lark, so I will certainly look into it.

From Marina Fragoulis
Posted on February 12, 2008 at 11:13 PM
How does one go about insuring? Do I have to get it appraised first? My Dad always kept the violin under the home insurance but I'm on my own now, and shamefully have not looked into this issue i.e. uninsured 1846 italian violin
From Raphael Klayman
Posted on February 12, 2008 at 11:32 PM
I have Clarion - a very popular one. But I guess it's hard to know how good a company is till you make a claim.

Oops - just noticed that you mentioned Clarion.

From Peter Carter
Posted on February 12, 2008 at 11:41 PM
How about Merz Huber in Strathmore Pennsylvania?They've been great for me...
From Scott Cole
Posted on February 12, 2008 at 11:48 PM
I've used Merz-Huber for years, though I've never made a claim. They have a rate for ASTA members. And yes, they will require some kind of appraisal for your instrument. The only think I don't like is their new 1% added "terrorism" fee. Give me a break!

I'm just wondering why the original poster can't get the instrument listed under their homeowners policy? I was under the impression that a special policy was needed for those who are professionals, but not students or amateurs.

From E. Smith
Posted on February 13, 2008 at 12:10 AM
Scott, we have the highest possible deductible on our homeowner's, I've thought iwas not not practical for insuring an instrument that is taken to summer programs, on airplanes, etc. We would probably need to undergo some special appraisals to add it to our homeowner's (our piano is insured this way, but the chances of it being damaged or stolen are minimal, unless we had a fire or explosion. Since a house just recently exploded in our city, I wouldn't necessarily rule that out!)Although, if we are submitting appraisals or bills of sale to other insurance company, it might make a call to our homeowner's insurance company worthwhile. But I don't think I would take a risk just assuming it would be covered. Also-- in almost 20 years we've only made a single claim on the homeowner's policy, and the risk of being dropped by them if we made a claim would be more significant to our family. Hmm, food for thought. I guess insurance is always a gamble. I don't dare make claims on my car insurance, for example, even if someone sideswipes me in a parking lot and leaves damage, because I fear the policy going up in price, or worse, being dropped.
From Valerie Coon
Posted on February 13, 2008 at 01:43 AM
Is it true that you can't have your homeowner's insurance cover it if you're a professional? I've been wondering about that very thing... :-S
From Peter Carter
Posted on February 13, 2008 at 03:10 PM
Thats what I was told Valerie.
I know what you mean about the 1% terrorism charge Scott.Like you,instrument insurance is a 100% write off and a necessary evil in our profession.Merz Huber still has a very competitive rate(I think its 60 cents per hundred dollars of value).Does anyone know of a cheaper rate?
From Eric Godfrey
Posted on February 13, 2008 at 05:00 PM
Peter Carter wrote:
instrument insurance is a 100% write off and a necessary evil in our profession.

Not necessarily - see the other thread: "Violinist trips, destroys Strad."

The Merz-Huber rate you quote is a good one, far less than Clarion charged me (I switched from them after one year when I realized they were charging me at least twice what all other companies wanted). Be sure to read the policy from any company you consider; not all are the same in provisions, restrictions, etc.

From Edward Loewenstein
Posted on February 13, 2008 at 10:11 PM
Not all insurance companies follow the same guidelines for insuring instruments. My homeowners policy covers my violin/bow under a 'personal articles floater'. No deductible, and the instrument is also covered during shippment to/from my luthier. All for less annual cost than insuring it for a single shippment via UPS or FedEx. The company is USAA. Excellent company, but they only deal with US military personnel or their dependents.
From Peter Carter
Posted on February 13, 2008 at 10:39 PM
Eric,I meant the yearly insurance premium is a 100% write off if you make your living playing on the instrument.I've been doing it for 21 years.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 03:06 AM
I have a rider on my homeowners policy and I have never made any claims. I don't have specific knowledge of instrument insurance but I understand a few principals of insurance generally.

1. Only insure the risks that you can't afford to self insure. Don't insure for minor things that you can cover out of your pocket.
2. Choose the highest deductible you can afford then stretch a little more. In most kinds of insurance this brings the premiums way down.
3. Only claim when you really have to. The notion that you are entitled to make claims is a sure fire way to get a cancellation of a policy. Save your claims for the big items.

From Craig Coleman
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 03:25 AM
One violinist I know got her violin insured through Lloyds of London and also her hands incase of any accidents and she wouldn't be able to play.
From Cynthia Marcus
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 05:38 PM
I have insured my violin and bow with a separate rider on my renters insurance. However, they told me that since I am no longer a student and that I now only use my violin professionally I can no longer be covered with renters insurance, so please make sure your company knows if the instrument is being used by a student, or as a hobby, or by a professional.

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