Insurance and indemnity (Spectrum 5.0 consultation draft)

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Use this procedure to ensure you have appropriate cover if objects in your care are damaged, lost or stolen. The procedure applies to your own objects, loans and other objects left in your care.

Working out your insurance needs can be complex, and may need specialist advice from valuation experts, security advisors and conservators, as well as your insurance providers. The risks you insure against, and how much cover you need, will depend on related procedures including Valuation and Disaster planning. Items of low financial worth but great significance may need enough insurance to cover swift emergency treatment after a disaster, followed by years of remedial conservation work.

Your insurer may require high-value objects such as fine and decorative arts to be catalogued (and photographed) in enough detail to help later recovery if they are stolen. The ObjectID standard is used internationally for this purpose.

Indemnity refers to non-commercial insurance of the kind underwritten by governments, allowing museums to exhibit high-value loans they could not otherwise afford to borrow. In the UK, the Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS) is managed by Arts Council England.

The Spectrum standard

You must have a policy on how you insurance or indemnify objects in your care. This could either be a standalone document or part of a wider collections management policy. Either way, you should include answers to these questions:

  • Which objects must you insure, and against what risks?
  • Which objects would it be prudent to insure, and against what risks?
  • What circumstances should trigger a review of an object’s cover?
  • How will you insure or indemnify objects you borrow?
  • How will you make sure your objects have appropriate cover while lent out or otherwise away from your museum?
  • Who is responsible for arranging insurance and renewal?
  • How will you keep your insurance cover up to date?

You must also have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when managing and documenting insurance. Spectrum’s suggested procedure is a useful starting point, and is available as a workflow diagram or as a text file you can edit. However you do it, your own procedure must meet the following minimum requirements:

Minimum requirement Why this is important See (cross-references to be added in final version)
All the objects in your care, whether in your museum or away from it, are insured or indemnified according to your agreed policy. You can recover from loss of, or damage to, your own objects.

You can compensate lenders if you lose or damage their objects.

You have the appropriate minimum liability sum or excess to be paid if required. You have the financial resources to cover those sums if the worst happens.
Your insurance and indemnity cover is reviewed regularly, and updated as required. Changes in valuations are reflected.

New acquisitions are covered.

Your catalogue records meet any standard specified by your insurer for the purpose of recovering stolen items. You may not be covered if a valuable item is stolen and you cannot provide images and enough information to identify it.


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  1. ‘All the objects in your care, whether in your museum or away from it, are insured or indemnified according to your agreed policy’.
    Objects in national collections can’t be insured, does this wording take account for that? Although clarified in flowchart – is this enough?

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Date created: 2017

Author: Collections Trust

Publisher: Collections Trust