Appraisals and Insurance - Common Questions, Simple Answers

Following are the most common questions I hear related to collections management and appraisal services. The answers provided here are intended to serve as primer for in-depth conversation specific to your collection, the type of object under consideration and the purpose of the appraisal.

Please feel free to contact me directly to address your specific concerns.

Why is it important to have my art collection appraised?

There are many reasons to have your collection appraised – ultimately protecting the value and condition of the object are of utmost importance. A complete catalogued inventory of your collection and associated documents, along with current appraisals are integral to protecting the value of the collection. An appraisal will:

  • Determine value for insurance coverage
  • Establish value for equitable distribute of property – divorce and estate cases
  • Evaluate the condition and recommend methods for conservation
  • Estate planning

What should I look for when insuring my collection?

  • Verify that your policy covers fine art
  • Determine what types of loss are covered – breakage, lost items, storage, transport, loans for exhibition etc. 
  • Is there a difference in cost between a scheduled policy (each item listed separately) for the appraised value or blanket policy?
  • When in doubt ask your appraiser to review your policy.

How often should I have my art collection appraised?

  • Every 3 – 5 years or upon a known change to the status of a particular artist - death of the artist, rise in popularity, significant sale of related item, etc.

How does an appraiser determine the value of an object?

After inspecting the object, the appraiser will conduct market research on comparable sales in the marketplace where similar items are found and that meet the requirements for the type of appraisal being performed. 

Why is it important to have a complete inventory/catalog of my collection?

  • Estate Planning
  • Insurance – Insurance companies will need a complete inventory of the collection. Additionally, the cost of insurance may be lower if the collection is scheduled rather than a blanket policy. 
  • Protect the value by maintaining records regarding the provenance (history) of the piece to prove ownership and authenticity. Questionable ownership records and/or authenticity can greatly devalue an object.
  • Track the location of an object – storage, on loan, primary residence, vacation home etc. 

Who owns a damaged artwork after the insurance company pays a claim?

  • The insurance company owns the object. If any or all of the object has salvage value the Insured has the right to buy it back from the insurance company.

How are appraisers paid?

  • The appraiser is paid for how much time is involved in the appraisal – either by the hour or by the project. Appraisers are not and cannot be paid based on the value of the property.