Managing your personal art collection is a beautiful interest and in many cases a lucrative investment. As ownership has its responsibilities we need to think about the protection of our assets. Hence, insurance is an integral part of the deal. Iris Handke from ARTE Generali is an expert in this field and she gives answers to the most important questions with regard to art insurance.

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About the expert

As Head of ARTE Generali Germany, Iris Handke is responsible for the German business – from business development to risk management and art expertise. Handke began her professional career in 2006 as a fine art underwriter and art expert in the Munich branch of Axa Art. Most recently, she was chief underwriter in Germany for Axa Art’s exhibition business in the Central European countries before moving to Canada in 2016 as a managing director. As an art historian and lawyer, Handke combines her passion for art with 14 years of experience in the German and international art insurance business.


What are the key things I need to keep in mind when it comes to art insurance?

Art insurance is a highly specialized segment of the insurance market that is necessary, because artworks and collectibles are unique pieces that require special coverage and knowledge when it comes to underwriting, i.e. assessing the insurance risk. For this you need underwriters who know art and its intricacies, such as what is important to observe when it comes to handling, transporting or storing.

Insuring art is not only about paying a claim, but about helping clients prevent damage. If an artwork gets destroyed, it can’t be replaced. The piece itself is gone and, with it, a piece of cultural merit that does not only have a financial value, but also a highly emotional one.

In a nutshell, I would recommend making sure that your insurer has art expertise, offers service and advice around your collection before the claim itself, as well as a broad coverage.

From the collector’s point of view, keep your values updated so as to avoid being underinsured and, most importantly, document your collection! The Object ID standard can provide guidance when it comes to that, for example, so that in case of a claim the adjustment is as smooth as possible. The Object ID is a standard of describing works of art and cultural heritage by compiling comprehensive information about the respective object. For more information, you can check the ICOM (International Council of Museums) website http://archives.icom.museum/object-id/checklist.html

It is also worth keeping in mind that art insurance is usually defining „art“ rather broadly to take the various forms of collectibles into account. A collection of rare wines and spirits, for example, deserves the same security and coverage as a painting, a photograph or antique furniture.

What risk incidents does an art insurance policy cover?

The coverage needs to be based on a so-called “All-risk” coverage. This means that your artworks are not only insured against the usual suspects like water, fire, burglary or storm, that we find in a normal content insurance that is based on named perils. A specialized art insurance needs to cover normal damages as well, which is what statistically occurs most frequently, such as damages in course of a transport, by everyday handling, or by accidents like inadvertently dropping the glass object or inadvertently damaging the canvas of a painting, the baroque credenza or whatever you collect and value.

In this context, it is important that the settlement for a partial loss not only includes the costs for conservation and what is associated with that, but also a possible depreciation that might remain even after being professionally restored.

Feuer, Das Brennende Haus, Flamme

Does the piece of art need to have a certain value in order to insure it?

If it is precious to you as a collector and you want to secure it, you should.

However, insurance companies usually work with minimum premiums or minimum sums for the whole collection that is to be insured. At ARTE Generali we take insurance underwriting decisions on a case-by-case basis, but we cover collections with a cumulative value of €500,000 or above.

What role does provenance play when it comes to the insurance policies?

Provenance plays an important role when it comes to determining the value for example, and, with this, of course, the insurance premium, which is based on said value. It should be carefully and comprehensively documented by any collector, as it is an important part of the object.

How does the digitalization affect art insurance?

Digitization is an amazing trend that has been even further accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis in a lot of aspects of all our lives. ARTE Generali wants to spearhead this in the art insurance world thanks to its unique expertise. We believe that digitization is key to evolve art insurance, combining service and expertise with 21st-Century technology.

ARTE Generali’s digital ecosystem features an app that enables customers to catalog their artworks in a digital gallery, to have access to their insurance documents and to report a claim in case of damage with just a few taps on the screen.

Furthermore, we are combining these features with third-party services, like for example obtaining the evaluation of an artwork remotely – including an unalterable certificate – by submitting images and relevant information to a team of experts online.

We launched the app mid-May and we are in the process of integrating more and more features in it, to the benefit and support of our customers.

What can you say about the partnership with Pinakothek in Munich?

ARTE Generali’s premiere in Germany took place in the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, during a fantastic night at the museum’s Rotunda with the presence of, among others, the world-renowned photographer Oliviero Toscani and the contemporary art genius Maurizio Cattelan.

Pinakothek der Moderne

Furthermore, ARTE Generali supports the “DesignBuild” initiative in cooperation with the “PIN. Freunde der Pinakothek der Moderne” (the association of supporters of the Pinakothek) and the Architekturmuseums of the T.U. Munich. This consists of an exhibition, currently ongoing, in the Pinakothek der Moderne and a temporary building outside the museum serving as a hub open to the community for events and lectures in the fields of art and culture, to be constructed later this year.

As the Covid-19 crisis is expected to discourage social events for the foreseeable future, interesting digital formats are also being currently discussed and developed together with the PIN. Freunde.