Contrary to the luck of the owner of Love Is In The Bin – the notorious Banksy work that was shredded live at auction in 2018 – not all damage adds value. Here’s how to ensure you’re covered, should the worst happen.

“Art is at its best when it is doing what it was created to do: give stimulation. Stimulation of enjoyment, discussion, argument and thought-provocation. It can’t do that if it’s locked away in a vault. Displaying, moving, lending and enjoying art comes with inherent risk, but that’s what insurance is for.” Andrew Mitchell, Hiscox

Insuring your art collection is essential but it can be complicated, fraught with “what ifs” and unknowns. What if your Banksy print has dramatically increased in value? What if you want to display your art in your home rather than hide it away? Whether you are a first time buyer or seasoned collector, here we answer key questions around art insurance, just in case the unexpected happens. 

Golf Sale by Banksy

Banksy’s Golf Sale

Girl With Balloon, since renamed Love Is In The Bin, self-shredded immediately after selling for £860,000 at Sotheby’s in 2018. The work has since been valued at well into the millions, since Banksy verified it was him who built the shredder into the frame. But not all damage adds value…

I’ve just acquired a Banksy print, what should I do first? 

As soon as the artwork is owned by you, anything that happens to it would be your responsibility from that moment. Prepare your paperwork for insurance  – get a recent valuation, you can request one here. Everything from seller receipts to authentication certificates are necessary – in the case of a Banksy, ensure you have a certificate from Pest Control, the only body that can authenticate a Banksy print. If you do not have one of these, you will need apply for one. 

How to get Pest Control authentication as a buyer

Pest Control authentication is the best way to circumvent the conmen and make sure any Banksy you’re buying is genuine. You will need to fill in the forms as directed on the Pest Control website. Once you’ve submitted the form, you’ll get an email containing your authentication request number from either [email protected] or [email protected] Pest Control charges a fee to issue a verification certificate. If the artwork is verified as genuine, Pest Control will send an email with an invoice attached. Once this invoice is paid, your certificate of authentication from Pest Control on behalf of Banksy will be delivered to you within two weeks of the payment clearing.

You can find more out about applying to Pest Control here.

Good quality insurance policies contain an ‘acquisitions clause’, Andrew Mitchell, a Line Underwriter for Hiscox’s Art & Private Clients division explains,

“An acquisitions clause that will automatically cover new items within a percentage of the overall values insured on your policy as long as they are declared to the insurer within a reasonable period (typically 30 or 60 days) and the requisite premiums are paid. Ensure you keep all your proofs of purchase in case you need to make a claim for a new piece before you have made the declaration. This will help confirm your ownership and that the loss or damage occurred after you became the owner.”

sell banksy with myartbroker

Will a household insurance policy cut it? 

Hiscox Home Insurance Policy provides £10,000 of cover for your art collection. If the value of your collection exceeds this, they can provide the extra cover as needed. There is limited admin required on your part and newly acquired pieces are automatically covered as long as your collection value stays below £10,000.

However, for anything above this threshold, and therefore a majority of Banksy’s original print work value, you might perhaps look to enlist a specialist art insurer, like Ultimart to provide specialist cover giving peace of mind and security. We threw the question to Ultimart and this is what they said:

“Getting tailored artwork cover is key, if the artwork is increasing in value quickly then standard home insurance will not make allowances for this. Our cover provides Value Increase Protection cover of up to 150% for market appreciation, and up to 200% for death of artist which means that you are protected as the value escalates. If you purchase directly though My Art Broker, your purchase receipt will act as your valuation. Alternatively, you can get a separate valuation that would be acceptable to us through them.”

Ultimart also offer Worldwide All Risks cover, which means that your art is covered for accidental damage (not always covered on a home policy) as well as cover outside of your home address including transit. They also have no policy excess, so nothing to pay if you do need to claim, plus their cover is also warranty free unlike most standard home policies.

Brownhill Group offer a scheme with an automatic 25% uplift to the sum insured to cover new items that are acquired. There is a second option where the policy has banded limits of cover, so any new acquisitions are automatically covered providing the total value of the collection is in the correct banding. It is also very sensible to advise your insurer as soon as you can after the purchase to ensure the correct cover is in force.

What happens if my collection increases in value? 

Artwork is likely to appreciate in value over time. If you were one of 150 lucky buyers of Banksy’s signed print of Girl With Balloon in 2004 for just £150 you would have seen an average annualised return of 56% on your investment. Utlimart’s insurance policy covers value appreciation including when an artist dies (up to 200%). In the event of theft or damage Hiscox pay out the market value of the work at the time. 

Ultimart’s Value Increase Protection Cover will allow for market appreciation of up to 150%. With Banksy, however it’s a good idea to get this reviewed every year as the increases can happen quickly, and you can ask for a valuation here at anytime.

Gary Tommy, Compliance Director at Brownhill stresses the importance of obtaining a valuation from a bona fide valuer explaining that: “Such a valuation ensures you are correctly insured and means that there is no ambiguity when it comes to claim payouts from the insurance company.”

Banksy's Morons

Banksy’s Morons

How and where should I store my Banksy?

Security is important, as with anything valuable, but we think Andrew Mitchell from Hiscox Art & Private Client division puts it the best way possible:

“Art is at its best when it is doing what it was created to do: give stimulation. Stimulation of enjoyment, discussion, argument and thought-provocation. It can’t do that if it’s locked away in a vault. Displaying, moving, lending and enjoying art comes with inherent risk, but that’s what insurance is for.”

However, if you have pieces that are not to be displayed, then keeping them in a safe or a locked safe room is an extra security measure that would be recommended, and there are specialist storage facilitators for this kind of work. And as recommended by specialist insurance broker Ultimart:

“If it is a higher value piece or part of a high value collection (£250k or over) then having an intruder alarm at your home would be absolutely necessary.”

Love Art Insurance part of the Brownhill Group concur on the importance of an intruder alarms when work is stored in your home, and go further to suggest speaking with your insurer first to ensure that the alarm meets with any insurer requirements.

How do I care for my Banksy print? 

While you may have an excellent insurance policy in place it is important to care for your artworks correctly. Prints should be framed with UV glass and unframed prints should not be left rolled up. See our A Guide to Caring for Your Banksy Print here.

Look after your paperwork – a detailed inventory of your collection, including the artwork details, medium, edition number, signed/unsigned, dimensions, purchase details, current market value and any other costs for framing or restoration etc. Detailed photographs of your artworks are important, make sure to capture details such as the signature, the edition number, any defects, hand finishes or personalisation. 

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