How to have your antiques insured

Keep your treasured antiques safe by choosing the right insurance policy

A big ammonite sits at the bottom of a chest of drawers

Insurance may not seem the most exciting consideration when it comes to your most-cherished antique, but it’s certainly worth thinking about, as establishing the right cover is vital for protecting any high-value pieces. And while you should also ensure that your items are well-stored, cared for and secured, insurance offers a reassuring back-up, should the worst occur.

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Does ordinary household insurance cover antiques?

Not necessarily, says Cyrus Wakefield Dip Cll, Director at insurance brokers Anthony Wakefield & Co Ltd. ‘Many standard household policies will contain limited cover for art, antiques and similar items as these are usually defined as ‘valuables’ within the wording and are subject to a limit within the contents sum insured,’ he explains. Therefore, the cover offered by a general contents policy may be sufficient protection for smaller collections. ‘However, if the value of the antiques collection exceeds standard limits, specialist cover (arranged through a broker) should be considered to avoid disappointment in the event of a claim.’

Where to begin when getting antiques insured

A specialist broker is a recommended starting point for insuring high-value antiques, as their access to a range of insurers will help to ensure the correct policy and cover. BADA has several recommended service providers for antiques insurance, and it’s also important you check that your broker is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

A selection of antique blue and white china on a mantlepiece. Photography by Katya de Grunwald

How to choose a policy when insuring antiques

After selecting a suitable company, it’s time to begin the search for the right policy. ‘An insurance broker acts on your behalf and will source suitable quotes from reputable insurers,’ says Cyrus. ‘They will usually make a recommendation to you on the most suitable cover for your needs. Whereas, if you purchase cover directly from an insurer, you must ensure you read the quote documents carefully and check that the cover for antiques as defined in the wording is adequate for your needs.’

Do you need to have antiques valued before they can be insured?

While it can be useful to have a detailed valuation before taking out a specialist policy, it is not always necessary. ‘Such policies usually contain high limits for any one item, pair or set. If you have a rough idea of the value of your collection, this can be used as a basis for calculating the premium,’ Cyrus asserts. ‘A client can get cover without a formal valuation but this should be considered as a matter of priority to ensure that the values on the policy are updated and that any particularly valuable items are specified on the documents.’ It’s worth remembering this can be adjusted if valuations change or new items need adding.

In the hands of an experienced broker, the process of insuring antiques can be remarkably straightforward. Good insurance means peace of mind and that you’ll be suitably compensated should anything happen to your precious items.

NB Cyrus’ contributions to this article are general comments and are made without responsibility. For professional advice, contact Anthony Wakefield & Company, authorised and regulated by the FCA (307545).

Top tips for insuring your antiques:

• Ensure your broker is regulated by the FCA, and ideally recommended by a specialist organisation such as BADA.

• Make sure you insure the collection for its full value to avoid the risk of insurers reducing or refusing a claim payment.

• Get updates on your valuations every three to five years.

• Tell your broker if you acquire a new item during the policy period.

• Don’t assume the least expensive cover is right – it’s often not the case and any claim may end up being declined.

• Don’t withhold any information from your insurer or broker (this could result in a claim payment being reduced or refused).

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Words: Jenny Oldaker