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Insuring a musical instrument is important because it can frequently be one of the most valuable possessions someone owns. Homeowners and renters insurance both cover a policyholder’s personal property – including musical instruments – but coverage is often limited. While you can increase the coverage somewhat, musicians, collectors, and even some hobbyists should consider whether they need to purchase a policy.
Should I Buy Musical Instrument Insurance?
Not everyone who owns an instrument needs musical instrument insurance. Most people who have either a homeowners or renters insurance policy already have personal property coverage, which will cover their instruments. However, those insurance policies typically only cover up to $2,000 in damages for that category of claim. Depending on the musician or collector, $2,000 in coverage might not be nearly enough to repair or replace their instruments, which is why a number of companies offer independent musical instrument insurance policies.
Anyone with a single instrument, collection of instruments, recording equipment or music materials worth more than $2,000 should consider getting an endorsement, scheduling a floater (if available) or getting a separate insurance policy to protect it. Homeowners and renters insurance policyholders can purchase an endorsement to increase the claim limit of the instrument category of their policy. But if their carrier does not offer an endorsement, or the value of their music-related belongings surpasses an endorsement expansion, they might need a separate policy.
For example, a homeowners or renters insurance policyholder who owns an electric guitar, amp and pedalboard with a total value of less than $2,000 probably does not need musical instrument insurance. That equipment would be covered under their homeowners or renters policy. If something happen to the music equipment, their policy would pay to replace it, minus the cost of their deductible.
Musical Instrument Insurance Coverage
Musical instrument insurance doesn’t just cover the replacement cost of items damaged or lost, it can be customized like most other insurance policies. Policyholders can typically choose the amount of coverage they need, their deductible and the policies are relatively comprehensive. Insurance for a musical instrument covers the instrument itself, chords and other equipment that accompany it and even sheet music.
In most cases, musical instrument insurance companies divide instruments into categories and almost every type is covered. Clarion Associates Inc. is a California-based insurance company that specializes in musical instruments. As an example, we listed all of the categories of instruments they insure.
General Categories of Musical Instruments Insured
- Classical strings (violin, viola, cello or similar)
- Acoustic strings (guitar, banjo, mandolin)
- Electric strings (guitar, electric bass)
- Percussion (orchestral, timpani, bells, marimba or similar)
- Percussion (acoustic or electric)
- Recording equipment (remains at studio)
- Reeds (clarinet, oboe, bassoon or similar)
- Woodwinds (flute, piccolo)
- Woodwinds (saxophone)
- Brass (french horn, trumpet, trombone)
- Brass (tuba)
- Double Bass, Upright Bass, non-electric bass
- Piano, harpsichord, clavichord or similar (non-electric)
- Harp or similar
- Electronic Instruments (synthesizer, keyboard, accordion)
- Recording equipment (travels with instruments)
- Electronic gear (amps, midi, mixing equipment or similar)
Laptop computers are not covered by musical instrument insurance policies, even though many disk jockeys use them. However, a turntable or other equipment would likely qualify for an instrument insurance policy.
Cost of Musical Instrument Insurance
Premiums for musical instrument insurance might be as low as $10 per year or hundreds of dollars, depending on the instrument, the policyholder and other factors. The cost of musical instrument insurance is based on a long list of determinants, including the declared value of the instrument itself, where the instrument is stored, how often it is played, whether it is used as a hobby or professionally and many other factors.
The instrument itself is one of the most important influences on insurance cost, given their wide range of varieties and value. Some instruments are a little more durable than others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will cost less to insure – a metal horn might be a little more durable than a violin, but it still might be valued much higher and cost more to insure.
The cost to insure some instruments is generally less than others. For example, most top-selling flutes and guitars cost roughly $300 to $500 but many pianos cost well over $3,000. Some music insurance policies have a minimum annual premium of about $150 per year, so it might not be worth getting a policy for a $300 or $500 instrument (remember, there will also be a deductible). But when it comes to a piano or other high-value musical instruments, insuring those for about $200-$300 per year might be worth it, especially depending on its use.
Getting Quotes For Musical Instrument Insurance
Obtaining musical instrument insurance quotes is not as easy as getting them for other types of policies. Almost all carriers require musicians or collectors to complete and submit detailed information and then the companies reach out to them with a quote.
For a company to underwrite an instrument or music equipment, the owner typically needs to declare the value of the instrument, how often it is played, where they keep it and play it, as well as other details. Carriers will also ask owners the age of the instrument, how often they travel with it and whether it is cleaned and maintained.
Orchestras and Ensembles Might Get Discounts
Members of an orchestra or ensemble might be entitled to a discount on musical instrument insurance. Carriers often have a partnership with orchestras or offer their members discounts on premiums. Those types of relationships are less common with ensembles, that have fewer members, but ensembles might get a discount for insuring their instruments as a group.
Any member of an orchestra responsible for insuring their own instruments should check to see if they are eligible for a discount through a specific carrier. Ensembles that don’t already have a relationship with an insurance company should inquire about insuring their instruments and equipment as a group.
Should I File a Claim for My Musical Instrument?
Just because a musical instrument or music equipment is covered by homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t mean you should file a claim if it is damaged or lost. When a policyholder files an insurance claim they must pay their deductible and that claim will be logged and could impact their future insurance rates. The more claims someone files, the more likely their rates will increase or their carrier will choose not to renew their policy. So policyholders need to ask themselves: Is it worth filing a homeowners or renters insurance claim for my instrument?
The answer depends on the nature of the insured loss. Policyholders need to recognize an important distinction between filing a claim for an instrument lost in a large fire and a claim for one that was stolen – even though the deductible for each loss would be the same amount.
In the case of a musical instrument lost in a fire, a policyholder would probably file a large claim to repair their home and to replace any personal property lost (including the instrument). The cost of their deductible (most are roughly $500 or $1,000) would be a small price to pay to repair or replace what could be tens of thousands of dollars in damages and the instruments would be included in that. Having to pay those costs out of pocket might be impossible or a financial setback a policyholder would never recover from, which is why they have insurance.
But what if someone broke into a policyholder’s car or home and stole only their guitar, amp and pedalboard? The cost to replace those out of pocket might not be much more than a homeowners or renters insurance deductible and not worth filing a claim for.