How to insure an artwork?


When buying a painting or a precious object, you ask yourself how to buy art and protect it properly.
What is a work of art in the legal sense of the term? What type of insurance contract to choose?
Should we use an insurer specializing in art? How to insure an artwork? We talk about it in this article.


  1. Insuring a work of art: what is a work of art according to the law?
  2. The preliminary estimate to ensure a work of art
  3. Insuring a work of art: which guarantees to choose?
  4. To learn more about acquiring a work of art, see our articles:


Insuring a work of art: what is an artwork according to the law?

According to article 98-A of the Tax Code, the following objects are considered as artworks : 

  • paintings, collages, paintings and drawings, entirely executed by hand by the artist;
  • original engravings, prints and lithographs printed in limited numbers;
  • statues and sculptures made entirely by the artist;
  • handmade tapestries and wall textiles;
  • ceramic, entirely executed by the artist and signed by him;
  • enamels on copper, executed entirely by hand;
  • photographs taken by the artist, signed and numbered.


The preliminary estimate to ensure an artwork

To insure an artwork you must first assign a value to it.
This valuation makes it possible to establish the amount of the insurance policy and compensation in the event of a claim.
At the time of subscription, the insured may opt for a declared value insurance contract or an approved value insurance contract.


Insure an artwork in declared value

An insurance contract is said to be declared value if the insured alone estimates the value of his property without the intervention of an expert and without control by the insurance company.
In this context, a global amount is declared.
In the event of a claim, the compensation may not exceed the insurance value entered in the contract at the time of subscription (article L. 121-5 of the Insurance Code).
If the price of the work exceeds the sum guaranteed on the day of the loss, the insured party bears part of the damage.
In accordance with article 1315 of the Civil Code, it is the responsibility of the insured to prove the price of the works.
Photos, invoices, certificate of authenticity can be used as supporting documents for the insurer.
Insuring your works of art at declared value involves risks if their price is likely to fluctuate in a short period of time.
This is commonly the case in the contemporary art market.

The preliminary estimate to ensure artwork
Insuring artwork: which guarantees to choose?

Insure an artwork in approved value

An insurance contract is said to be agreed value, when the insured determines the value of works of art in concert with the insurer.
In this case, it is common to call on an expert for the valuation of the goods.
On the basis of this expertise, a list or an inventory of the works is drawn up.
The insurance premium is calculated from this declaration.
Each time the contract is renewed, the insured can have their guarantees corrected to stay as close as possible to market fluctuations.
In the event of a claim, the insurance company reimburses on the basis of the value shown on the contract. The insured does not bear the burden of proof.

Insuring an artwork: which guarantees to choose?

What risks can threaten your artworks?
What type of guarantee can provide effective protection for your collectibles? We look in detail.


What are the risks to insure an artwork?

Your works of art may be threatened by the following risks:


  • the fire (smoke detector mandatory);
  • water damage;
  • theft (in the absence of alarms or remote monitoring, some insurers may refuse to pay compensation in the event of theft).

Other types of risks, inherent in the art world, can threaten your collectibles:

  • vandalism (deliberate destruction of a work of art);
  • negligence (unintentional damage to a work of art);
  • storage (poor storage conditions, humidity, heat, light, etc.);
  • transportation (moving, exhibiting, buying works of art online, etc.).


Insuring an artwork: what type of guarantee?


Depending on the value of the works of art to be insured, you can opt for three types of insurance.

  • Multi-risk home insurance. This cover guarantees valuables present in the house (works of art, antiques, precious objects, etc.) in the same way as ordinary furniture. Please note, this means that obsolescence can be deducted at the time of compensation. A multi-risk housing contract turns out to be ill-suited to an "artistic" heritage exceeding 6,000 euros.
  • The "All risks except" guarantee. This policy covers all damages except those stated in the exclusion list in the insurance contract. This type of cover is taken out by collectors in addition to the comprehensive home warranty.
  • The nail-to-nail guarantee. This guarantee can be taken out in addition to the "all risks except" guarantee during the one-off exhibition of a private collection. In this context, works of art or collectibles are insured during all stages of the exhibition (unhooking, packaging, transport, hanging.

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Preserving an artwork

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