Violin Insurance

June 12, 2008 at 05:05 PM · Hello!

I'm shopping for violin insurance, and I've looked at Anderson, Clarion, and Heritage. Has anyone used these, and do you have any feedback about these?

Thanks!

Hollis

Replies (35)

June 12, 2008 at 06:29 PM · Have you also considered Merz-Huber?

June 12, 2008 at 08:49 PM · I like Clarion personally. They aren't to high priced, and the people there are always very nice and attentive.

June 12, 2008 at 09:39 PM · When my electric violin and bow was stolen in a a home burglary about ten years ago, Clarion was excellent. They were quite sympathetic and processed my claim without delay. I received a check fairly quickly. I don't know the other companies you mentioned, but I can recommend Clarion.

June 12, 2008 at 10:33 PM · We've been using Heritage for years. They've been very responsive and helpful, particularly when our daughter's instrument had a serious accident a few years ago.

June 13, 2008 at 12:15 AM · I second the suggestion of Merz-Huber. That insurance, which is available to members of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA), is pretty affordable and offers "all-risk" coverage with a low ($100) deductible.

June 13, 2008 at 11:54 AM · I'll give another vote for Merz Huber.They are very reasonable at 65 cents per $100.00.Ive been with them for nine years and have no complaints.

June 13, 2008 at 01:32 PM · I had a pretty bad experience with Heritage a few years ago, so I wouldn't recommend them. I've since switched to Clarion, and been pretty happy. The initial price they quoted was rather high, but I had quotes from other companies which they were willing to match. I've also heard good things about merz-huber.

June 13, 2008 at 01:42 PM · I wanted to just let you know if you had any questions regarding Anderson Group, I'd be happy to answer.

All musical instrument policies are fairly competitive in price and coverage. One thing that sets us apart is that we are a small company that can deliver personalized service. We have a vast background in music as the owner has dual music degrees and has performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Tangelwood Festival Orchestra for almost 30 years. As a representative, I myself have played violin for over 20 years and have a daughter who has been playing for 3. We don't just sell musical instrument insurance, we know it. I am a licensed insurance agent and can also deliver the risks involved with relying on a homeowner's policy for coverage of this nature.

I think this is what sets us apart from the bigger names but it is mostly what you feel comfortable with!

As always, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have either on the forum or via email at csheehan@anderson-group.com

Thanks so much ~ Hopefully I haven't offended anyone being a representative of the company however as mentioned I also have personal reasons for being on the violinist.com forum!

June 13, 2008 at 02:01 PM · What rate per $100.00 do you charge Christina?

June 13, 2008 at 03:43 PM · What is the advantage for getting an independent insurance for instruments compared to extending the homeowners insurance?

June 13, 2008 at 04:39 PM · "What is the advantage for getting an independent insurance for instruments compared to extending the homeowners insurance?"

That's a good question, Ihnsouk, and when not long ago I called our homeowner's to ask what the premium would be on a new violin we might buy, the quote was much lower than what I heard form other companies. One disadvantage (for us) is that we have a thousand-dollar deductible on homeowner's, but if you are really only insuring against catastrophes like theft or a serious accident, that wouldn't make a difference, especially considering the lower premium.

June 14, 2008 at 12:55 AM · Homeowners' insurance will not cover your instruments if you use them professionally.

June 14, 2008 at 04:36 AM · I had a very bad experience when I (actually my parents) made a claim under their homeowner's policy for the theft of my violin. The insurance company paid the current appraised value of the violin, but it took everything else that was stolen (especially my bows) and *depreciated* them from their initial purchase price by something like 40% because they were "used." We had a lot of back and forth with them and while they came up in their settlement offer based on the replacement bows I purchased, they never came up to even the initial (10 year old) purchase price of them. This was my fault, in part, for not getting them on every violin appraisal I'd had done, but I wouldn't expect this to happen with a specialty instrument insurance group.

June 14, 2008 at 04:37 PM · I have my instruments insured with State Farm, from which I also buy my auto and home-owners' insurance. I have a detailed rider and recent appraisals; they will pay the appraisal amount, including on bows. I had one bow broken at school by a student teacher, and they paid the amount listed, no problem. Sue

June 14, 2008 at 06:48 PM · As Sue has noted, getting the value of your particular valuables covered up front with the insurance company is the best way to go. Otherwise you pay your premium, then get to negotiate the value after the fact.

June 15, 2008 at 01:51 AM · yes state farm is ok

June 15, 2008 at 02:12 AM · Travelers (aka Geico).

They insure my fiddle, Musafia, and bows totalling 30k+ for a very minimal rider on my apartment insurance. Granted they were pissy about asking tons of questions about security etc...but its cheaper than I ever dreamed.

June 15, 2008 at 07:27 AM · I switched from Clarion after one year, when I belatedly comparison shopped and found they were charging me over twice the prevailing price (my fault, I should have compared before buying instead of taking a recommendation). And I had trouble getting responses from their customer service (there was an overcharge issue at one point), except when I didn't renew; then I heard from them right away.

I have had a very good experience so far for a couple of years with Awes-Seidel in Edina, MN (the policy is actually written by St. Paul Travelers). Customer service has been excellent, and I'm paying over 60% less (not a misprint) than Clarion for a policy with essentially identical provisions. They cover professionals and amateurs in the Twin Cities area, so this may not apply to you, but I highly recommend their coverage to anyone in the upper Midwest.

As to homeowners vs. a dedicated policy, having had both I recommend the peace of mind of the latter. The value of your instrument may be the determining factor; many home insurance policies limit the value of what they'll cover on a rider, and in my experience when it comes to string instruments have little understanding of the nature of what they are covering.

Finally, I have never had to make a claim under any policy I've carried, and that would be the definitive criterion. You could consult your state insurance commissioner's web site (or whatever they have where you live). In Wisconsin, for instance, you can find on line rankings of insurance companies by consumer complaints against them (one issue covered is ease of collecting on a claim). Check before you buy, not all insurance companies are equal when it comes to paying out.

June 16, 2008 at 04:01 PM · I have a few questions to answer as well as something I also wanted to add.

To the question asked about how much our rate is, it is .525 per $100 for freelance musicians. We have a few different programs (Harps, etc.) which vary very slightly. There are different rates for those who have higher values as well.

The other question was how it varies from homeowner's insurance (which is also what I wanted to expand on as well!)

As a licensed MA agent writing homeowners insurance as well as many other lines, I am confident in this. All policies vary, however, most policies will not offer protection should you use your instrument in a business capacity (i.e., you get paid for your performance.)

Also, you may not be getting the value you believe you are for your violin as they may base the value on actual cash value (ACV) which is basically replacement cost value minus depreciation, which there aren't many instruments that depreciate.

Moreover, as someone else mentioned, your homeowner's deductible may be upwards of $500 or $1000 whereas a musical instrument policy could be as low as $250.

Another thing to bear in mind, homeowner's policies may base coverage off of "named perils" as compared to our particular "all risk" policy. What does this mean? If you dropped your violin and it broke, your homeowner's policy most likely does not have a "drop and break peril." It may haev Fire, Lightning, Theft and Vandalism, but chances are, it doesn't have the dropping peril! Not to mention, unless you endorse your home policy specifically for earthquake insurance, you will not have coverage if your instrument were damaged due to an earthquake on your home policy. On a specific policy like our musical instrument policy, it is automatically covered.

This is the same for flood. Unfortunately with Katrina, we lost several harps that thankfully were insured! Unless you have a separate flood policy (This is not a home policy) you would have no coverage otherwise. Bear in mind as well, that flood policies have a maximum amount of coverage allowed and unless you CHOOSE contents coverage, you won't get it.

As you can see there are a lot of gaps in coverage on a home policy. I can think of countless claims (from hurricanes to someone moving an instrument to an area that was not climate controlled and the varnish cracked) that were covered and would not be covered on a home policy.

For a minimum premium of $125 which would cover up to a bit more than $19k in coverage, it's definitely money well spent! You can add any musical instrument to the same policy and keep the same rate (In fact we even have policies with gongs!) There are also many policies that have accessories listed (benches, music stands, extra sets of strings, tuners, etc.) in the instance that you have a complete or total loss.

I do get a bit passionate about all of this since I am a musician myself! I almost cried when my daughter's rosin was dropped by another student! lol... so this certainly is close to my heart and it's why I really try to get the word out that you would much rather be out $125 a year with a $250 deductible that be out $3,000 and more to repurchase instruments, accessories, etc.!

Please feel free to email me outside of the discussion if you have any questions. I don't want to self promote but honestly as I said, it sits close to the heart!

Thanks :)

June 16, 2008 at 04:20 PM · I have used Clarion for many years. I get a group rate through CMA. I had one claim, over 10 years ago, when I dropped my violin and the neck popped clean off. There was no problem. Luckily, there hasn't been any more reason for a claim! (Knock on wood).

Every company is different. Good insurance is not cheap. Word of mouth is a good place to start. My teacher recommended Clarion. It is most helpful to talk to someone that had to process a recent claim.

June 16, 2008 at 10:38 PM · "What is the advantage for getting an independent insurance for instruments compared to extending the homeowners insurance?"

It depends... Coverage by rider on an existing homeowners policy may, or may not, address specific risks to string instruments. One example: Depreciation due to damage. A number off my clients who have checked have discovered that loss, or repair is covered... but not the depreciation that occurs with some kinds of damage. Again, it depends on the company/carrier and the language of the policy.

Just a word of caution for those who mentioned claims experiences from a decade ago. There were many changes after 2001... some of the companies changed carriers (underwriters) and added exclusions. What was reality a decade ago may not be today... best to check things carefully when applying for coverage.

I don't think anyone mentioned Total Dollar. Certainly a company on my short list.

Cheers,

Jeffrey

June 28, 2008 at 05:10 PM · For Christina Sheehan,

Not long ago you were you not promoting another

insurance company?

June 29, 2008 at 08:42 PM · Amen, Jeffrey. My violin cracked last summer. We had homeowner's but not instrument insurance. My heart dropped into my stomach when someone told me that instrument insurance would have paid the difference in value.

January 27, 2009 at 02:48 AM ·

For violin insurance I would recommend Anderson Group- they have a low minimum premium and the coverage is great.   Plus, the kid they have on their site cracks me up:  http://www.anderson-group.com/violin

 

 

January 27, 2009 at 05:02 AM ·

 

All risk policy offered through ASTA...so far it is great piece of mind; but never have had to file a claim. I guess that's when you find out if any company is worth its salt.

MERZ-HUBER CO

http://www.merzhuber.com/

January 27, 2009 at 05:15 AM ·

I've had Merz-Huber--the only thing that's p---d me off is their 1% "terrorism" premium. WTF? 

January 27, 2009 at 08:16 AM ·

Scott, yes that boggled my noodle too but the premium for an "all risk"  MUSICIAN policy is by far cheaper than anything through AFM and a homeowner's policy add on just does not cover any "ALL RISK" situation.

Ah Ha ...Come to think of it, I bet that 1% terrorism bit is because of traveling a musician may take by plane...anyway, any sort of insurance (car, home, health) is something necessary, yet something you hope you never have to use.

January 27, 2009 at 08:41 AM ·

I currently have instrument insurance which is separate from my homeowners insurance.  My problem is that my insurance company believes that instruments, like furniture, depreciate with age.  To get around this, I would have to have all my violins, bows, cases, reassessed every couple of years.  Can anyone recommend instrument insurance that does not function this way?

January 28, 2009 at 01:08 AM ·

To address Pauline's statement above about having to have your instrument reappraised every so often: Unless it is a student instrument, it is generally recommended that you have your instrument and bows reappraised at least every five years. This keeps up with any adjustment in value due to appreciation or repairs. If your insurance company tells you that your instrument (like furniture) devalues, I would find another company for instrument insurance. Most better (non-student) violin-family instruments and bows will at least hold their value, if not appreciate over time.

 

Insurance on your instrument should be directly related to how you use it. For many amateurs (or maybe I should say players with instruments that are not so valuable), a separate rider to a homeowners policy is often enough. However, for players that play professionally (insurance companies define this as getting paid for playing), then a company that specializes in instrument insurance should be considered. As far as the companies above that have been discussed, I would highly recommend Heritage and Merz-Huber.

 

I will disclose that I am insured (as a business) by Heritage, and have had the best service that one can expect. Real people answer the phone! Personally, I have not had a claim with this company, but several of my colleagues have without any delay or problems.

 

As far as Merz-Huber, I had an exceptional experience with them this last November. One of my clients presented me with a broken bow for repair. You can see the bow here. He was insured by Merz-Huber, who asked for a repair estimate. I wrote the repair estimate, but also included the devaluation of the bow and emailed it back to my client. He had the check in his hand for the full repair and devaluation (minus his deductible) within 10 days. I’ve worked with quite a number of insurance claims over the years, but never had a client receive the money so fast.

 

Final comment: I hate to see clients rely on homeowners policies for claims on instruments. In my experience, rarely have general homeowners policies actually covered a realistic value (covering total loss, but denying things like repair, devaluation due to repairs, claiming that instruments and bows devalue with use…). A separate rider attached to the policy that is very specific to the instrument is better, but still often denied.

 

Josh Henry, Bow Maker & Restorer
www.FineViolinBows.com

 

January 29, 2009 at 07:33 PM ·

"I've had Merz-Huber--the only thing that's p---d me off is their 1% "terrorism" premium. WTF?"

Scott, you made me laugh!

My mom's instruments are insured with Merz-Huber as well.  I recently looked at the policy, and I agree - that daffy "terrorism" premium - WTF/OVER?

January 31, 2009 at 06:05 PM ·

Try an old family style insurance company like State Farm Insurance.  They do have a policy for instruments that seems pretty decent as long a you are not a professional player.  See a local State Farm Agent near you for a copy of the policy and its strengths, weakness etc.  I understand that they are quite reasonable.  Good luck.

March 7, 2009 at 10:07 PM ·

Ok, so I switched over to this thread to ask more questions.  Right now, I'm paying Farmer's Insurance extra money to insure, I think, about $7000 worth of instruments.  My son, 15, isn't professional over the table (nor is my 11 yo cello player), but he will be filing taxes on his teaching this year, I think.  Does that count as being professional?  Should I call Farmers to see what their policy is on that? (Yes!)

Also, where do you go to get instruments assessed?  We've bought all our instruments from the same dealer (Fred Meissner, now in Washington State) and he gives full trade in value, so I just take his word for how much their worth.  Would he be the right person to evaluate the instrument or does that come from an impartial third party?

March 8, 2009 at 01:15 PM ·

Rebecca,

by all means you should ask your insurer, and be sure you get their response in writing if it is not specifically stated in the policy.

as for appraisal, the dealer you  mentioned should be quite satisfactory. Not knowing what instruments you actually have, values may or may not increase with time. Bear in mind that  if the very same item can be purchased new, then values of the same used item shall never increase.

March 8, 2009 at 04:01 PM ·

Rebecca, I would call the dealer you bought from and ask for an insurance appraisal. He will know what you mean. Then call around to the various companies and get an estimate. We found that Total Dollar's prices were extremely competitive. Other good companies are Heritage, Merz-Huber (you have to join ASTA to qualify for their rates), and Clarion, who does not insure kids under 18, although if you ask them for an exception they may consider you.

March 8, 2009 at 10:56 PM ·

Thank-you for the advice, E and Sam.  I will make calls to both our home owner's insurance and our violin dealer this week. 

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