Instrument insurance

August 12, 2018, 12:20 PM · Of course it makes sense, doesn't it? But I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has been unfortunate enough to suffer damage to or complete loss of their instrument. What were the circumstances, were they able to make a claim and what was the outcome? For what it's worth I don't think I personally know any player who has had this experience, and the sum total of their expenditure in premiums must have been pretty substantial.

Replies (15)

Edited: August 12, 2018, 12:37 PM · Iris, a now deceased former violinist colleague of mine forgot that she had left her violin case on the trunk lid of her car before she backed down her driveway. The case slipped off the car and one wheel of her car ran over it turning the violin inside into kindling. Fortunately the Otto Hoyer bow inside the case was undamaged. He case was the cheap "cardboard" kind that many cheap violins were carried in by pre-1950s school kids.

The insurance company paid the full $25,000 the violin was insured for and she found a significantly repaired Vincenzo Panormo violin at Ifshin's to replace it for about that amount.

By the way, it was an interesting experience for me and and another violinist collegue who went along with with Iris to try different violins after her insurance payment came. The final choice was between the Panormo and a 1920-something French violin of similar value. It was clear when Iris chose the Panormo that her high-frequency hearing was really shot.

Edited: August 12, 2018, 3:01 PM · Again, nothing that happened to myself - thank goodness!
A colleague of mine left one his violins on the back seat of his car for maybe 15 minutes, covering the case with a coat. He just went upstairs to carry something to his daughter's flat, and when he returned someone had broken the window and stole coat and violin case with everything inside. The violin wasn't very pricey since it was only his "number 3", but there were two fine bows inside, a Lamy and a Pfretzschmer. Insurance paid within four weeks. This was when I decided for this insurance company, since most companies exclude loss from an unattended car.
Edited: August 12, 2018, 3:28 PM · lol, Andrew. That sibilant, huh? ;)

Nuuska, what insurance company? I’d be interested in switching too for that reason.

Edited: August 12, 2018, 4:42 PM · Harmonia.de - it's a german insurance broker (but cannot gigure out why they shouldn't accept international clients) specialised on musical instruments, covers worldwide insurance and also against most events other insurance companies would exclude upfront. The process is very uncomplicated online. And they have a calculator on their website where you can calculate the expected fee.
August 12, 2018, 4:44 PM · Unfortunately it's only in german language...
Edited: August 12, 2018, 5:36 PM · Nuuska, don't let that stop you. Try Google translate for a start. It is good enough nowadays that you can figure out most of the text.
Then boldly contact the company in English. I bet they won't have any problem understanding you. If they insure customers from abroad I wouldn't know; I could think of a couple of reasons why they would not. But it is worth asking.

My own insurance situation: I have none. My fiddle is a Gustav Lütschg from 1918. His name is not well known. He worked in Bern, Switzerland and left around 290 instruments. I had it assessed in the early 2000s intending to buy insurance. The price came in at $11.000. It is an awesome instrument and I'd have a very hard time replacing it for $11.000. So I left it uninsured (also because I am a lazy bum of course). However it is included in our home insurance, so it would be covered for the 11.000 if something happened to it in our home (fire or flood or theft). But the danger is of course much bigger elsewhere.

August 12, 2018, 8:18 PM · I've had several customers make insurance claims. Companies that specialize in string instrument insurance, Clarion, Total Dollar, Mertz Huber, never have a problem with the claim letters that are provided. It's the homeowners insurance companies that usually have some issue, they eventually pay, they don't seem to understand fine stringed instruments and bow, and make you jump through hoops.
Edited: August 12, 2018, 10:33 PM · Well, I do already have insurance from this company. I'm not german but a EU citicen, so at least they accept customers from within the European Union,.
Edited: August 14, 2018, 3:47 AM · Judging from the paucity of responses I'm starting to think that either a) nobody reading this has ever had to make a claim, or b) most of us don't bother to insure our instruments specifically.

In the past my position has been like Albrecht's; covered up to the "single item" limit of my home insurance. That would have left me maybe 30% underinsured but better than no cover at all. Now I finally have an instrument that's worth way more than my home insurance will recompense me I'm having a rethink. Arguments in favour of forking out maybe 1% of its worth every year are clear enough, but I also hear arguments against. The three times my house has been burgled (in the 80's and 90's) the thieves showed no interest at all in my viola! The violin would have been out of the house with me at the time but I don't suppose they'd have treated it any differently. I did once leave it in the luggage rack of my train but followed it to the end of the line and collected it an hour or so later. Flood? - hardly likely in my area. Fire could be a factor worth taking seriously but the violin would represent a fairly low proportion of the total loss.

The major risk, as Andrew's story so well illustrates, could be when travelling by car. While in motion there isn't much danger from thievery and the back seat is pretty well protected in the event of a minor coming-together. When parked , well I simply wouldn't dream of leaving the violin inside. Loading and unloading? - of course we all make silly mistakes, some more than others, but I've decided I'll just be very, very careful!

I should of course add that everyone's circumstances are different. I wouldn't recommend anyone do what I do, or especially what I say.

August 14, 2018, 5:49 AM · Steve, something else to consider is any limitation your insurance company places on professional use. I am quite pleased with the coverage we get through our home policy with Amica, but it doesn't apply for professional use.
August 14, 2018, 1:29 PM · I use Clarion--their policy seems pretty robust except for the exception for theft while leaving the violin in your car.
August 14, 2018, 7:05 PM · I have Heritage insurance, I had one claim, for a few hundred dollars for damage to the instrument when something fell into my open case. The claim was submitted by my luthier, paid without any hassle and I never had to do a thing.
August 14, 2018, 10:17 PM · Honestly I don't think big insurers are going to waste time quibbling about details on a policy for something valued in the range of $10,000. Cars worth several times that amount are totaled out every day. I have a homeowners rider with Allstate for my violin. The agent advised me to update the insurance appraisal every five years, so I'm probably due.
August 23, 2018, 4:12 PM · I am actually most worried about mishaps outside my home. I know of somebody who placed their violin on a chair during the break at some rehearsal and somebody carelessly sat down on it. Accidents of this kind are not going to be covered under a home insurance policy.

It is also true that in a case of catastrophic fire the violin is only a fraction of the total loss. But I have no problem replacing my furniture entirely from IKEA if I can't afford anything else. I really don't want to play an "IKEA violin" though.

August 23, 2018, 4:57 PM · Albrecht, I couldn't have said it better.

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