Insuring Museums

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by Christopher J. Boggs, CPCU, ARM, ALCM

Museums come in all shapes, sizes, locations and purposes. Some museums are found in modern buildings, while others may be set up in old homes, manufacturing plants or even boats and ships. The setting of the museum generally serves to magnify its purpose. Museums may highlight art, technology, history, science, nature or sports to name but a few purposes for which museums are created.

Inland marine and premises liability are a museum’s greatest exposures. The value of, responsibility for and movement of exhibits creates a huge inland marine exposure. Participative displays and exhibits may increase the potential for visitor injury leading to a higher-than-normal premises liability exposure.

Some of the underwriting questions agents may face include:

  • Hours of operation:
  • Is there a full-time curator on staff:
  • Is there a registrar on staff? If not, who fulfils that duty:
  • Minimum number of employees on site:
  • Any volunteer labor used:
  • Are criminal background checks conducted on employees and volunteers:
  • Annual number of visitors:
  • Types of items on display:
  • Is the museum accredited:
  • Is the museum for-profit or non-profit:
  • Who owns/manages the museum:
  • Are any displays participative (can patrons interact with and touch the display):
  • Overall value of works on display:
  • What percentage of pieces are owned by others:
  • Are loaned pieces inspected before acceptance to ascertain condition:
  • Are loan agreements standardized (except for value) or original for each situation:
  • Is the museum responsible for insuring the property of others:
  • How are items on display protected from damage:
  • How often are exhibits changed:
  • What security measures are in place:
  • Which employees are allowed to handle the objects:
  • Where and how are items not on display stored:
  • How are museum pieces tracked:
  • How often are display and premises inspections conducted:
  • Who is responsible for appraising and establishing value of works on display:
  • What fire control and suppression methods are utilized:
  • Is there a gift shop? Annual sales?
  • Is there a cooking exposure? Describe:

These are just some of the areas that require investigation when insuring a museum. Underwriters may require additional information.

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