The COVID-19 pandemic has altered how many industries do business, and the art world has been no exception. Auction houses and private sales have predominantly moved online, while other art collections have chosen to halt sales until the pandemic safety measures are lifted. For insurance brokers, the changes that COVID-19 has brought to the world has altered some of how art is being collected and insured.
Buying art is an incredibly personal experience. People flock to galleries and museums, auction houses, and private collectors to pursue art that inspires them. Without the ability to observe art in person, collectors are moving online and creating new methods of observing, authenticating, and purchasing art worldwide. Fine art insurance brokers are adapting to meet the needs of art collectors in a socially-distanced world.
The Art World’s Response to COVID-19
The rapid shift from in-person to digital art sales has the industry moving along, even as COVID-19 cripples other global economy aspects. Art collectors’ interest and passion for art don’t wane, even if the economy prevents some collectors from acting on their interests. After the 2009 recession, art collectors came back strong and have continued to grow this global industry. The pandemic crisis shows many of the same patterns as art collectors utilize their purchasing power in a digital art age.
As collectors continue to purchase art, insurance brokers need to be aware of some of the changes that 2020 has brought to the industry to make their clients aware and prepared. An insurance broker is an essential business partner for an art collector. The pandemic has altered many of the familiar aspects of art collecting that clients may not be aware of as they venture back into the art buying space. An insurance broker can offer advice for insuring, transporting, restoring, and displaying the art collected with potential pandemic restrictions in mind.
Art’s value can be subjective, and a thorough appraisal is needed to insure an art piece or collection adequately. COVID-19 has meant that this appraisal takes place digitally rather than in person. This can cause some buyers concern over correct appraisals and reliable methods of authenticating the art they are interested in purchasing. An insurance broker could not only assess the insurance risk of their art purchase, but recommend third parties for appraisal, authentication, transportation, and more.
Insurance Brokers and COVID-19
One thing hasn’t changed for brokers during the pandemic- the importance of providing the right fine art insurance policy for clients. Some clients may not be aware that their regular homeowners insurance policy coverage will likely not be enough to cover their fine art purchase. Some clients may be tempted to forego insurance due to its additional cost in an already turbulent economy; however, the necessity of insuring fine art for its value remains. An insurance broker needs to show clients why a fine art insurance policy is required for their particular piece or collection to insure it for its appraised value.
Insurance brokers should emphasize the changes that COVID-19 has brought to fine art transportation around the world. Pandemic restrictions are different from country to country and could result in delays in financial transactions, shipping times, insurance costs, and more. Art is at its most vulnerable when in motion, and transportation delays and staffing shortages could increase the risk of a client’s art being on the road for longer than it needs to be because of the pandemic.
Brokers should inform clients of the potential risks of buying art sight unseen and advise them on best practices for purchasing art through digital means. There may be closures of art houses or delays in preparing art for shipping due to short staffing or other unexpected events. Hiring an experienced transportation company that is well versed in shipping fine art of various sizes, shapes, materials, weights, and values are also integral.
Fine art insurance brokers are more than just insurance agents- they are the experts behind every piece of art they come across. From making appraisers’ recommendations to finding the right insurance policy for clients’ art, brokers are working at the art world’s front lines to protect these valuable items for many years to come. Time will tell how the art industry continues to change and evolve as the pandemic runs its course; some collectors may choose to remain digital, while others will eagerly anticipate the return to enjoying art in person.