Violin insurance

January 27, 2005 at 02:05 AM · I got my violin appraised the other day, and the guy said it could be anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500, due mostly to wear and tear on it. He said it sounded very good, but had been previously repaired several times.

My question: what should I insure it for? My homeowner's policy will give me $3,000 coverage without the need for a written appraisal and with no additional premium required. If I insure it for $3,500 I'm sure I'll have to pay more. Can anybody out there give me an idea of what I can expect to pay in terms of extra premium? Or should I just call my insurance company and ask? I don't want them to think I'm trying to commit some type of fraud. Should I even bother with the extra $500 coverage?

Replies (7)

January 27, 2005 at 03:33 AM · Before insuring our instruments I asked the insurance co. how much more the coverage would cost me. Then I was able to decide. It was a ridiculously small amount and well worth the effort. It is good to have some kind of proof of its value. A luthier can provide an assessment and statement (possibly at a fee) or you may have your bill of sale as proof. Was the person appraising your violin a violin maker? I thought that value of instruments didn't go according to 'wear and tear' - or does it? Does anyone know? I mean, musical instruments are one thing, unlike cars, that gain in value over the years.

January 27, 2005 at 11:31 AM · Provenance and condition play into a violin's worth. Inexpensive (say under $10,000) trade violins are very much utilitarian items. Condition will figure fairly strongly into value. An insurance company will only cover what you demonstrate something was worth, so documentation of market value is useful. What one might get with specialty insurance is damage coverage for losses while on the road. I had such insurance as an individual long ago. Cost me very little indeed considering I had two claims, one for a bow broken by someone else (no volunteers) at a party. Often one can find that "insurance" appraisals are written for a higher value than "market value" appraisals. I don't know whether this works.

Might look up a specialty company and compare coverage to what you'd get through a rider on homeowners.

January 27, 2005 at 03:09 PM · I agree with the two posts above, find out what the insurance rates are first.

One thing to consider is not what you actually paid for the instrument, but what it would cost at today's prices to replace it (market value, which, to Stephen's point, the inssurance companies I've dealt with have tended to look at the replacement value as slightly higher than strictly market prices). Note that you might need to pay more for like-quality in terms of sound regardless of the visual appeal---this is something you might have some lee-way with when the insruance company does not require an official appraisal. In my experience, most insurance companies only want a description and current replacement-market value from a couple of sources for anything under 10,000 (they may want a photograph of the instrument, as well). As time goes by you may need to get a new policy if you believe the replacement value has increased.

January 28, 2005 at 06:45 PM · Well, I talked with the appraiser and the insurance company a bit more today.

He's going to appraise it at $3,000. That's probably good since my insurance policy covers "Musical equipment and related articles of equipment". Based on the interpretation, it could mean the violin, the bow and case all under the same $3,000 limit.

The insurance company said that to insure it for that much, the additional premium would be like $15, so no biggie.

January 28, 2005 at 07:47 PM · Just remember, with most insurance companies you have to provide proof that you owned an item such as this should you make a claim on it. You'll want to have photos of it from all angles and the receipt if you still have it. Put them with your other important papers (security box or safe).

January 31, 2005 at 04:03 PM · Is the appraisal (which includes a description of the object) not sufficient? I no longer have a bill of sale for the violin (it was purchased over a decade ago).

January 31, 2005 at 05:18 PM · I'm curious whether insurance companies vary in what circumstances they will cover. For example, in my son's case it covered taking the viola to and from school on the bus in all kinds of weather, leaving it in the strings room between classes (there's a special locked room inside the main room for that purpose), having it in someone else's house or I suppose in a hotel room when travelling. When he went to Europe with the school it was still covered, but I had to write a special letter detailing where he would be (travel itinerary) and timeframe. Is that the same everywhere? (My own insurance needs are much more humble.)

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