Insurance and indemnity – suggested procedure

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You should have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when managing and documenting insurance. This suggested procedure is useful starting point. It is given as text and also as a workflow diagram. However you do it, your own procedure should meet the minimum requirements of the Spectrum standard.

Identifying insurance and indemnity needs

Create your insurance and indemnity policy.

In this step, ‘policy’ refers to your own your museum’s decisions about what to insure or indemnify. You must normally insure or indemnify:

  • Objects on loan to you (including in transit) – loans are usually subject to contractual agreements, including a requirement to insure or indemnify.
  • Objects on loan from you (including in transit) – it is normally the borrower’s responsibility to insure or indemnify objects on loan to them, and you should get written evidence that appropriate cover has been arranged. In some cases you might agree in advance to insure objects you are lending, and include this in your loan agreement with the borrower.

You must also normally insure:

  • Working exhibits – there are statutory liabilities requiring specialist cover associated with aeroplanes, cars, boats, locomotives, steam vehicles, mechanised exhibits and mining equipment.

It is prudent to insure:

  • Objects with a readily identified high market value – these may include fine art, precious metals, gemstones and coin collections, clocks, watches and certain classes of biological material (eg ivory, though this can never be sold legally and there is therefore no ‘market value’ and insurance should be for conservation only).
  • Objects which may not have a high market value but which are of great value to you – these might include objects central to your displays, of local significance, or with a high replacement cost (eg a replica engine).
  • Objects in transit or temporarily with another organisation (eg for conservation) – in some cases responsibility for insurance may be transferred by agreement with the other party.

See Note 1 for guidance on objects in transit.

File your approved policy on insuring and indemnifying your collections and note the Document location so you and others can find it.

Insuring and indemnifying objects

Work with the insurer or indemnifier to arrange cover.

You will often need to take out insurance or indemnity cover (or update existing cover) as a result of other Spectrum procedures.

Send appropriate information to the insurer or indemnifier.

Your insurer or indemnifier will need information about your organisation and its security arrangements and disaster planning.

Provide the insurers with current valuations for all objects to be insured. Valuations of objects which are not your property should be agreed in writing by the relevant owners. If you do not already have up-to-date valuations go to Valuation.

Agree the insurance or indemnity cover and record information about it.

Record the following information about the insurance or indemnity cover:

Object identification information


Loan in information

For insurance cover record:

Insurance information

For indemnity cover record:

Indemnity information

Retain written evidence of insurance or indemnity cover.

Retain written evidence of the insurance or indemnity cover, and check to ensure all the details are correct.

File the documents and note the Document location in the relevant object records so you and others can find them in future.

Secure and control access to insurance and indemnity records.

Restrict access to, and protect the security of, your insurance records as they contain confidential information such as valuations and security arrangements.

Monitor and update cover as required.

Cover agreed for items in your accessioned collection is likely to be ongoing, with annual renewals reflecting broadly the same risks, although you may need to update your cover in the light of changes in valuation or specific high-value acquisitions. You will also need to monitor loans in and out of your museum, and update your cover accordingly.

When insuring against potential conservation costs in case of damage, take note of developments in techniques and consequent changes in costs.

Claiming against insurance or indemnity

Compile information in support of the claim.

If you need to make a claim for damage to, or loss of, objects covered by insurance or indemnity you will need to include information about the objects and the circumstances go to Damage and loss.

For a large group of objects provide as much information as possible at group level, and for an average or typical object within it.

File the claim and note the Document location in the relevant object records so you and others can find it in future.

Guidance notes

Note 1: Objects in transit

When arranging the, determine whether and which items should be covered by insurance in transit, who is responsible for providing cover and to what level. It may be necessary to approve the mode of transport in consultation with the insurers.

When arranging the deposition of archaeological project archives, it is expected that the project archaeologist will be responsible for insurance of the archive in transit. Other instances where insurance in transit is highly desirable include the collection/delivery of treasure and objects purchased from salerooms or antiquity dealers.

For items on loan from you, the loan agreement should include a stipulation that the item be insured for the specified value for all risks, including transit cover from the time it leaves your premises to the time it returns (‘nail to nail’ cover).

Date created: 2017

Author: Collections Trust

Publisher: Collections Trust