What do you mean "I'm responsible"?

By Ann Mohr

June 2, 2023


Common Pitfalls Regarding Insurance

Here are a few scenarios that put insurance in quite a different perspective.

  1. You have just contacted an instrument maker or violin shop to audition a bow and their policy mandates that you have insurance coverage during your trial period. It occurs to you that they have insurance, so there is no need to worry.


  1. You have just purchased a bow and assume it’s covered under your homeowner’s policy, so there’s no need to contact your insurance agent.


  1. You have broken your new bow and contact your insurance company first instead of contacting the maker or violin shop.


All these examples seem perfectly logical, but put in perspective are incorrect assumptions and actions. Let’s examine each example carefully. As a prospective buyer it is important to notify your insurance agent to let them know that you will have (give the number of bows and dollar value) several bows in your possession during your trial period (give the dates). Some insurance companies will require a short-term rider, while others simply appreciate the notification. However, putting something in writing for their records will benefit your cause should the unthinkable happen. It also would be a good idea to check with them about covering the shipping to help reduce the cost. It is required by most if not all violin shops for instruments to be insured for their full market value, stated on the trial contract, on the return shipping.

Keep in mind, should something happen to the bows, our insurance company will subrogate against your insurance company. If you did not notify your insurance company that you had bows of considerable value in your possession and they were not covered, ultimately you are responsible for them. This means the maker or violin shop’s insurance company will come after you so that you compensate the shop for the loss of the instrument and not their insurance company. Believe me, you don’t want to be paying for the loss or damage of a valuable bow for the rest of your life.

This also holds true when you consign your bow with a violin shop in an effort to sell it. Do not cancel your insurance and read the consignment agreement carefully! If something happens to your bow while in the shop’s possession, you’ll want to make sure you get reimbursed for its loss or damage. In that case, your insurance company will subrogate against the shop owner and his/her insurance company.

In example number two, you have purchased a new bow and have assumed your homeowner’s policy will cover the replacement cost should it be lost, stolen, or damaged. This assumption is incorrect! You better read your policy carefully to determine if your homeowner’s policy has a limit for musical instruments. Many homeowner’s policies do not cover “peril,” which include bumping, cracking, or falling with your instrument. A homeowner’s policy also will not cover the instrument if you are in the process of performing when it is damaged and you are being paid for the performance (this is easy when performing in cramped quarters like an orchestra pit). This is considered a business claim and not a homeowner’s claim.

Typically, a homeowner’s policy has a limit on one particular item. You may be able to get reimbursement under your personal property portion of your policy, but you may find that in case of fire, you really need to cover necessary and valuable items more. A separate policy or “rider” will specifically cover items like jewelry, art, silver/gold, collections, or musical instruments. Make sure these items are covered up to their full market or replacement value and not under an “actual cash value” policy that deducts for depreciation. They often only provide 80% of the coverage you’ve been paying for. Some policies contain “an agreed value” clause that does not include depreciation, and only covers the item’s value in the year it was purchased and not its full market value. It would be worth the time to research your bow’s value in 1980 and its current value in 2023, and take note of its appreciation.

To purchase a musical instrument policy, you may be required to provide a Certificate of Authenticity, insurance appraisal, and/or bill of sale depending on the value of the item being insured. Please be advised there is a difference in insurance premiums for professional, semi-, and non-professional musicians, like students. There is good news…a musical instrument policy is likely to have a much lower deductible than your homeowner’s policy.

The third example has happened to us more times than I care to remember and that’s why we are writing this blog. It is sad to think that one of our bows has met its unfortunate demise, but no matter the situation, always contact the maker or violin shop before sending your bow to the insurance company! However, it is important to contact your insurance agent immediately, too.

Let us know what has happened and send us pictures or the bow if possible. We are happy to contact your insurance provider with an alternative to total replacement, such as making a new stick or frog. A new stick to replace the broken one helps you to retain its full market value. This will cost the insurance company considerably less than paying out the full replacement cost. Should you not like the replacement, simply sell the bow and purchase something that suits you and your instrument with no monetary loss.

When the insurance company asks you to send the bow to them, they often want to see for themselves the condition of the bow, while others are satisfied with a letter of condition from the maker or violin shop where you purchased the bow. But please, talk to us first before sending your bow away to the insurance company.

When you get to the stage where you are investing in expensive equipment, discuss the options with your insurance agent. Ask about how they will reimburse you for a stolen, lost or damaged bow, and what their process is to make a claim. Ask them what they will do with the damaged bow should you return it to them and take the payout. If you choose to take the cash, don’t expect the full amount of the coverage you were carrying on it. Ask them about replacing the item with “like, kind or quality.” Always be prepared for the unthinkable.

If you are looking for an insurance agent for your instrument or bow, feel free to contact us for a recommendation.

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