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Homeowners and renters insurance both cover musical instruments as a part of their personal property protection, but that coverage can be limited. While you may be able to make some increases to that coverage, people who own expensive or rare instruments — including musicians, collectors, or even hobbyists — should consider buying separate musical instrument insurance.
Should I buy musical instrument insurance?
Consider purchasing separate coverage for your musical instrument if your homeowners or renters policy won't insure the instrument for its full value.
Not everyone who owns an instrument needs musical instrument insurance. Most people who have either homeowners insurance or a 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, and depending on the musician or collector, $2,000 might not be enough. Anyone with a single instrument or collection of instruments worth more than $2,000 should consider adding an endorsement to their current coverage.
For example, if you own an electric guitar, an amplifier and a 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.
If your insurer does not offer an endorsement, or if the value of your music-related belongings surpasses an endorsement expansion, you might need a separate policy.
Musical instrument insurance coverage
Like most other insurance policies, musical instrument insurance can be customized. Policyholders can typically choose the amount of coverage they need, and 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 category is covered. For example, Clarion Associates Inc., which is a California-based insurance company that specializes in musical instruments, insures the following:
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)
It's worth noting that laptops 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 of coverage, depending on several factors.
The cost of musical instrument insurance is based on a long list of determinants, including the declared value of the instrument, where the instrument is stored, how often it's played, whether or not it's used professionally and many other factors.
The instrument itself is one of the main determinants of insurance cost. Generally, this means the cost to each instrument can vary. Most top-selling flutes and guitars cost roughly $300 to $500 per year to insure, but many pianos cost well over $3,000.
Some instruments are more durable than others, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to cheap policies — a metal horn might be a little harder to break than a violin, but it could still be valued much higher and cost more to insure.
Some insurers have a minimum annual premium of around $150 per year. This means it might not be worth getting a policy for a $300 or $400 instrument, as you'll have to pay a deductible before making a claim. But when it comes to a piano or other high-value musical instruments, insuring them for $200-$300 per year might be worth the cost.
Discounts for musical instrument insurance
Members of an orchestra or ensemble might be eligible to get a discount if they purchase musical instrument coverage as a group. Carriers often have partnerships with large groups like orchestras, however this is less common for groups that have fewer members.
Any member of an orchestra who's 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
It can be relatively difficult to get a quote for musical instrument insurance. Unlike other insurers who offer instant quotes online, 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, along with details regarding its use, storage and maintenance. Carriers will also ask owners how often they travel with the instrument.
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 that's destroyed in a fire, for example, versus one that's stolen.
Even though the deductible for each loss would be the same amount, a musical instrument lost in a fire would probably be included in a large claim to repair their home and replace personal property. 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 costs 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.