Violin Insurance Question

September 14, 2016 at 08:14 PM · Hi all, I'm going to be living out of my home country (USA) for about a year. I'll be living in Spain and I plan on bringing my violin. I'm a beginner so my violin is only worth ~$1100 although I also have a $500 bow. Do you guys think it is worth getting insurance? Obviously, I'd hate to lose it. It's a great instrument for me and I spent a lot of time picking it out.

At the same time it's not worth that much and I don't want an expensive payment every month. Any recommendations? Thank you!

Replies (25)

September 14, 2016 at 08:48 PM · I recommend insurance. It doesn't have to be that expensive. My instrument policy comes to around $140 a year. That's small change for the peace of mind it provides.

September 14, 2016 at 08:53 PM · Will either your homeowner's policy or travel insurance cover it? The worth of those is too low for musical instrument insurance to be economical.

September 14, 2016 at 08:55 PM · Instrument insurance is not very expensive, sign up as a member of ASTA and take advantage of the excellent rates provided by the insurance partner organization.

September 15, 2016 at 12:36 AM · Stay away from Clarion.

September 15, 2016 at 02:16 AM · I'm curious as well. I've been using Clarion for about the last 15 years.

September 15, 2016 at 03:27 AM · I have a homeowner's rider for my best violin, with Allstate. Seems fine. I take it out of the house a lot, to rehearsals, gigs, lessons, recitals, etc. I'm self-insured for my other instruments.

I think people should be more hard-nosed about whether "peace of mind" is worth the cost of an insurance policy. What's the cost of the policy? Will you be beggared if you lose the item?

These days every time you buy something, when you're at the register they offer you "coverage" which usually costs 10% of the cost of the unit per year for a three-year term. They always tell you it's "peace of mind." You have to think ... what's the likelihood this cordless drill, or cell phone, or microwave oven will die within three years? Well, it happens. But how *likely* is it?

One thing I can tell you is that the insurance business is just like the casino business -- the house wins in the long run, and by a comfortable margin. And remember that if you want insurance then you need an appraisal which is another expense.

@Frieda, ordinary homeowners or renters policies will usually expressly exclude musical instruments or antiques or anything else that seems likely to have a debatable replacement cost. The only instrument that is ordinarily covered is a piano because it is considered furniture.

On the bright side, a phone call to your homeowners' insurance agent is free.

September 15, 2016 at 04:05 AM · So I'm the 3rd one to ask: Scott - what happened to you with Clarion? I've had Clarion for years. That doesn't necessarily make it good. You never know how good an insurance company is till you have a loss or damage, which, fortunately, I have not. But what happened?

September 15, 2016 at 04:08 AM · A couple of you have had Clarion for years. But I wonder if you have tried to make a claim.

September 15, 2016 at 07:14 AM · Be very careful of relying on your home contents insurance if you use your instrument professionally. This is usually excluded from your policy.

Cheers Carlo

September 15, 2016 at 12:32 PM · So that's what I'm asking you, Scott - have you made a claim? What happened?

September 15, 2016 at 12:39 PM · Read the very small print: the exclusions get bigger every year.

A friend left her viola in a locked storeroom. Someone left it unlocked, her viola was stolen, and she got nothing..

And yes, most "household comprehesive" policies will knock 10% off the value for every year since the instrument was made!

September 15, 2016 at 01:09 PM · Like Raphael, I haven't ever had to make a claim. And like him, I'm deeply curious what happened when you did, Scott.

September 15, 2016 at 01:36 PM · I suppose these things are relative. When I had only had a set up that cost what the OPs did, I used my homeowner's insurance. Now my main instrument set up is worth more than my car, and I have multiple other instruments to cover as well. For that, the "peace of mind" provided by instrument-specific insurance is worth the small cost. YMMV

Along with others who have never had to make a claim, I would like to hear Scott's reasoning to caution against Clarion.

September 15, 2016 at 02:59 PM · My daughter has Music Pro. In seven years the only claim was for a cracked computer screen. This was on the policy because of sheet music and recordings on it. Got a check right away. I'm not sure if this company covers pro's, in spite of it's name.

September 15, 2016 at 05:34 PM · @Scott,

The "unexplained disappearance" exclusion may be their reason for denying (I just checked the terms of my Clarion policy to verify the language), but that's one where trying to go to trial could win it for her; the case law shows judges often side with the claimant as long as they were being responsible, as the circumstances you outline sound like (although the details definitely matter in showing if she was being reasonable in trusting the locked room). If the violin is worth enough, I recommend reaching out to a lawyer (and I'm not one or providing legal advice, so please consult real counsel). If you act tough, they may just fold without even having to go to trial.

However, all of the major musical instrument policies have exclusions for the same reason, as do almost every homeowners policy (I know, I just shopped around in January for insurance on my 11k violin; Clarion had the smallest gaps in coverage due to exclusions, which is why I went with them). There's really no way to find a policy that doesn't have the "unexplained disappearance" exclusion unless you're insuring a Strad and can buy a custom Lloyds-like policy with terms you specify (and for which you will pay much, much more), as the reason the exclusion exists is to reduce the chance of easy insurance fraud; this exclusion is also to prevent stupid things like leaving your violin in an unlocked car--that should not pay out, and this exclusion means it won't, which saves the rest of us on premiums.

Finally, if your friend knows who left the room unlocked, she should seek reimbursement from the person failing to lock the room; there may be a case there too, if they have the means to pay up. Again, though, call a lawyer=)

September 16, 2016 at 02:50 AM · If you do get insurance just make sure you shop around and get a good understanding of what is or isn't covered. I ended up going with Heritage for insurance on my violin and bow.

September 16, 2016 at 03:39 AM · Turning to OP's question, I too am interested in this topic.

With the value of his instrument, is it insurable, and also is it worth insuring?

After speaking to my bank, and insurance companies, I've decided to invest in a good case, because all of them either:

a) Cost too much, I am supposed to pay %20 of the value of my vioin every year?!

b) Policy has too much exclusions, and vulnerable loop-holes that can be taken advantage of by the insurance company. Such as ambiguous "Negligence in handling" not being covered.

c) I don't want a cheque, I want my violin!

September 16, 2016 at 05:24 AM · I'd also like to know what happened with Clarion. My orchestra provides instrument insurance with them for us as a benefit.

Paul, you might want to doublecheck and make sure your violin is actually covered including gigs with the rider on your homeowners. If you're using it professionally at all, it may not be.

September 17, 2016 at 04:00 PM · I have had Clarion insurance for years and have had 3 claims. The first was for a soundpost crack in a Vuillaume. They paid for the repair. Second was a burglary in which $30,000 in instruments and bows were stolen. They paid after about 2 months because the expectation was that the instruments might show up. They didn't until about a year later. I bought the instruments back from Clarion for salvage value. The 3rd was a crack in the top of my wife's violin caused by an accident. They paid for the repair very quickly. I have been satisfied with the way they settled.

September 17, 2016 at 09:57 PM · Insurance costs are a pain, but less of a pain then replacing lost or damaged instruments. The 2K in yearly insurance for my instruments is tax deductible, so that at least is some recompense. I did once claim for a damaged bow, but so far the insurance company is winning, hands down. I don't think they overcharge however, as one major instrument loss would take an insurance company many, many years, if ever to recoup.

Cheers Carlo

September 19, 2016 at 03:49 PM · One area that has come to my attention is that you will want to verify shop coverage. If your instrument (or bow, as in the case I know of) gets damaged while in for repair, and the shop's insurance doesn't cover the damage inflicted by the repair person, your policy may not cover it.

September 20, 2016 at 05:10 PM · Jim, you're right: repair damage is excluded by all major providers as I discovered when shopping around earlier this year. Your homeowners may not exclude it, though (which is why I also pay a few bucks extra to carry coverage with my homeowners in addition to Clarion), but it's best to just work with a luthier who has the financial wherewithal to fix any accidents.

September 20, 2016 at 06:30 PM · " it's best to just work with a luthier who has the financial wherewithal to fix any accidents."

What does this mean? a free repair?

September 20, 2016 at 07:32 PM · "but it's best to just work with a luthier who has the financial wherewithal to fix any accidents."

Not always as simple as it seems. In addition to finding someone competent, it is equally important is to work with a luthier or bow repair person who respects the instrument or bow entrusted to their care. But that is another subject.

September 20, 2016 at 08:29 PM · You also need to check that your policy covers depreciation due to damage. The case of a Vuillaume with a sound post crack in the back, the payout should be the cost of repair plus 50% depreciation.

Cheers Carlo

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