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Although homeowners and renters insurance both cover musical instruments as a part of a policyholder's personal property protection, coverage can be limited. While you can increase the coverage somewhat, musicians, collectors, and even some hobbyists should consider whether they need to purchase additional protection.
Should I buy musical instrument insurance?
You should consider purchasing additional coverage for your musical instrument if the value of what you own is greater than what's covered by your homeowners or renters insurance — otherwise, your existing coverage could be enough.
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 may only cover up to $2,000 in damages to instruments. Depending on the musician or collector, $2,000 in coverage might not be nearly enough to repair or replace their instruments. Anyone with a single instrument or collection of instruments worth more than $2,000 should consider extending their coverage.
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. This is why a number of companies offer independent musical instrument insurance policies.
If you owned an electric guitar, amplifier and state-of-the-art pedalboard, you might need to purchase additional musical instrument insurance, as the total value of your setup would likely exceed your policy's fractional coverage.
Musical instrument insurance coverage
Musical instrument insurance 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 can cover the instrument itself, accessories and other related equipment — 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 DJs and producers 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 many 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. Generally, this means the cost to insure some instruments is less than others. Most top-selling flutes and guitars cost roughly $300 to $500 but many pianos cost well over $3,000 per year to insure.
Some instruments are a little more durable than others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that durability translates to cheap policies — a metal horn might be a little harder to break than a violin, but it still might be valued much higher and cost more to insure.
Insurers sometimes have a minimum annual premium of about $150 per year. This means it might not be worth getting a policy for a $300 or $400 instrument, as you will have to pay a deductible before making a claim. 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.
Discounts for musical instrument insurance
Members of an orchestra or ensemble might be eligible to get a discount on musical instrument insurance if they purchase coverage as a group. Carriers often have partnerships with orchestras given their size. Those types of relationships are less common with groups that have fewer members, though.
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.
How to get quotes for musical instrument insurance
Obtaining musical instrument insurance quotes isn't as easy as getting them for other types of policies. Almost all carriers require musicians or collectors to complete and submit detailed information before reaching out 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.
Some musical instrument insurance companies include
Should I file a claim for my musical instrument?
Just because a musical instrument 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're required to pay their deductible. Additionally, repeat claims could increase future insurance rates.
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 — including the instrument. In this case, the cost of the deductible would offset what could be tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
On the other hand, if someone broke into a policyholder’s car or home and stole only their guitar, the cost to replace those out of pocket might not be much more than a homeowners or renters insurance deductible. In this case, it could be better to pay for the losses yourself and avoid expensive future hikes to your premium.