Protecting Your Art: A Must-Know Guide


For both passionate enthusiasts and seasoned collectors, evaluating insurance options for your artwork is paramount. Without adequate coverage, the risk of not receiving compensation for your paintings, sculptures, or other works of art in the event of an incident is significant.

Should you insure your artwork?

Are your works of art adequately covered under your standard homeowner's insurance policy?

What types of coverage are available, and what damages do they encompass?


These are just a few questions this guide addresses, elucidating how to assess the value of your artwork to select the insurance policy that best aligns with your requirements.


The Importance of Insuring your Art


Before opting for the most suitable insurance coverage for your artwork, it's imperative to ascertain whether the items in your possession meet the criteria for classification as artwork.


Legal Interpretation: Artwork Definition Under French Law

In France, the delineation of artwork is established by tax regulations, employing precise parameters related to wealth tax and VAT.


Article 98 A of Appendix III within the General Tax Code elaborates on the standards used to determine the classification of objects as artworks. Consequently, included among objects classified as artworks are items such as:

 Master pieces

  • Drawings
  • Engravings
  • Antique or contemporary sculptures
  • Vintage furniture
  • Manuscripts
  • Tapestries
  • Photographs

Note :

An expert must assess the authenticity, rarity, and value of an object for it to be considered a work of art.


However, the concept of a work of art may vary from one insurance company to another. Therefore, you should inquire with your advisor to ensure the coverage provided for your art objects.


The Risks That Can Compromise the Value of Your Artwork


Certain risks may undermine the integrity of your valuable possessions. Hence, obtaining insurance for your artworks is imperative. This coverage ensures compensation in case of:

 • Physical damage : Your artworks are susceptible to physical harm resulting from impact, falls, or similar incidents during their transportation and/or handling.

• Theft : Artworks, by virtue of their value, are susceptible to targeted theft during burglaries.

 • Fires and other natural disasters : Natural calamities such as fires, earthquakes, or floods can cause physical harm to your artworks.

 • Environmental deteriotion : Variations in temperature, excessive exposure to light, humidity... Environmental factors can gradually diminish the value and quality of your artworks.

 Confronted with these risks, ensuring the insurance coverage of your artworks is indispensable. These items are irreplaceable and may hold substantial value, which could appreciate over time.

 Consequently, safeguarding your artworks is paramount, irrespective of their display location, whether it be in your residence, a gallery, a museum, etc.



purchasing a work of art



 How to determine the value of your artwork?

Before obtaining insurance coverage for your artwork, it is necessary to establish its value. This assessment dictates the compensation amount in case of loss and the premium required for coverage.

For insuring your artwork, you will be offered the option of either a declared value insurance agreement or an agreed value insurance agreement.

Insurance contract based on the declared value for your artworks 

Insurance contract for your artwork on a valued basis

What does this entail ?

What does this entail ?

The policyholder estimates the value of the art pieces themselves. No expert input is sought, and the insurance company refrains from conducting any verification. Instead, a fixed sum is then declared.

In this type of contract, the insured and insurer collaborate to establish the value of the artworks. It's customary for an expert to be involved to ensure an accurate assessment of the artwork.


Subsequently, a comprehensive list of the artworks is compiled based on this expert evaluation, forming the basis for determining the insurance premium.


During contract renewals, the policyholder has the option to request adjustments to the coverage, enabling the estimated value to align with market dynamics.

In the event of a claim :

In the event of a claim :

According to Article L. 121-5 of the Insurance Code, the compensation cannot exceed the value stated in the insurance contract at the time of subscription.

Consequently, the policyholder may bear a portion of the damage if the artwork's price exceeds the guaranteed amount at the time of the claim.

Moreover, Article 1315 of the Civil Code stipulates that "the party claiming the fulfillment of an obligation must be able to prove it," implying that the policyholder must be able to provide proof of the artwork's value.

The reimbursement provided by the insurance company is determined by the value stipulated in the contract.


Conclusion :

Conclusion :

Should the value of your artwork fluctuate over time, the declared value in your insurance contract entails certain risks and may not be the best suited.

The insurance agreement for your artworks based on an agreed valuation presents an appealing option. It enables you to receive compensation based on an accurate assessment of your artworks' worth. You have the flexibility to adjust this valuation at each renewal of the contract to more effectively align with market changes.


It's clear that obtaining proper compensation in case of loss requires authenticating your artworks with an expert.

For example, an appraiser from CNES - the National Chamber of Specialized Experts - is well-equipped to assess their value.

You'll need to present this assessment to your insurance provider to determine your coverage.

Keep all relevant documentation regarding the rarity or worth of your artworks, such as certificates, authenticity statements, purchase invoices, etc. These records may be necessary when submitting a claim.

Additionally, consider taking pictures of your artworks installed in your premises. This will provide evidence of their existence in case of complete destruction or theft.




An Art Traffik Pointer :

Browsing the art market means riding waves of fluctuation. To safeguard your artwork's value in insurance claims, we recommend keeping its appraisal current.

We've developed a tool that will enable you to quickly assess the value of your collection.

For vintage pieces, you should reevaluate its worth every decade, and every other year for contemporary art.



Purchasing a work of art



Choosing the Right Insurance

Choosing the best insurance for your works of art involves verifying the risks for which you are covered.

First and foremost, it is important to carefully read your insurance contract before signing it, bearing in mind that you are insuring your collection. There is often a clause which specifies “excluding works of art".

Typically, the majority of conventional homeowner's insurance policies do not provide coverage for works of art.

In such instances, we advise getting supplementary insurance to safeguard your collection against the risks detailed later in this article.

Also, pay attention to the small asterisks in the contracts (often in very small letters) which also state that, depending on the value of your collection, your premium increases..



The risks against which you should insure your work of art

The value and quality of a work of art can be threatened by various natural or non-natural risks, such as:


  • Water damage;
  • Fires (why smoke detectors are to be installed);
  • Transportation;
  • Storage (which is why it is necessary to check exposure to light, heat, humidity levels, etc.);
  • Negligence;
  • Vandalism;
  • Theft (some insurance companies may refuse to compensate you for theft if you do not have an alarm system or surveillance device installed).


Different types of Artwork Coverages

Depending on the value of your artwork, you may choose from three different types of coverages :

  1. “All risks apart from exclusions” coverage: This policy covers all damages except for those explicitly stated in the insurance contract. Collectors often choose to add this guarantee to their existing standard homeowner's insurance.
  2. “Nail-to-Nail” Coverage : When exhibiting a private collection temporarily, you can opt for this guarantee to enhance the protection provided by the " All risks apart from exclusions” coverage. Under this guarantee, your artworks are insured throughout every stage of the exhibition process, including dismantling, packaging, transportation, etc.


Which Companies Can Insure Your Art Collection ?

For peace of mind in case of any issues, we recommend seeking insurance coverage from providers who specialize in the field of artworks such as :


Article published by Idoia Oliden