Art Transit Insurance: Managing the Greatest Risk to Your Valuables

Fine art and collectibles are always at their most vulnerable when they’re in transit. When items leave their primary location, any number of issues can arise. Whether it’s theft, problems with an unattended vehicle, or an accident involving a dropped crate, knowing about potential hazards during shipment can prevent avoidable damage. 

While using dedicated fine art packers and shippers helps reduce or avoid particular risk factors, they aren’t a perfect solution. That’s because accidents can always occur, even when precautions are taken, and many shipping companies’ insurance is limited to price based on weight, not value. This is fine for average parcels but often leaves high-value fine art and collector items underinsured and at risk.

That’s why Distinguished offers coverage for your valuables during transport in our Fine Art and Collectibles Insurance policies. With a Distinguished Personal Fine Art & Collectibles Policy, a collector transporting a selection of rare musical instruments can be covered in the event of in-transit damage. Our policies have a clearly defined transit limit, so the valuables you move with total shipment values less than the Transit coverage amount are automatically covered.

Interested in learning more about how Distinguished could help you win museum, personal collector, and corporate accounts? Check out our Fine Art and Collectibles Program page for more details, or continue to read this page to see the advantages of our art transport insurance coverage. 

What Risks Does Insurance for Art in Transit Cover?

Art transit coverage (also called art in transit, art transport, or art shipping insurance) is vital because damage in transit is common, and relying on the moving company’s insurance is never ideal; it rarely covers common causes of loss or limits the amount recoverable.

Although using specialty fine art shippers, freight forwarders, or recognized art handling companies will limit this type of exposure, it pays to be proactive and to do your due diligence. Make sure you research local companies and services, get recommendations on transportation methods and packing procedures, and have adequate specialty insurance coverage in place.

In transit, fine art and collectibles are open to potential problems that could result in damage if the items aren’t properly packed and consideration isn’t given to all aspects of shipment. These potential risks include: 

  • Theft: As with a burglary or robbery in your home, theft during transit or while in storage is typically a covered cause of loss.
  • Accidental damage: A work of art in transit can be handled by several movers and temporarily held at various locations throughout its journey from pickup to destination. Additionally, a piece may travel by airplane, on a ship, in a container, via multiple trucks, and pass through the custody of several third parties. Each step opens up new opportunities for damage if precautions aren’t taken. 
  • Adequate Packing: Depending on the shape, size, weight, material, and fragility of the objects, packing can be a complex undertaking. A variety of professionals in the business of packing and shipping artwork can be consulted, which includes custom crating and advice on appropriate materials for use. As long as the best efforts to safeguard the works during transport have been taken, coverage will make your clients whole again should a loss occur. We always hope the items get safely to their destination, but in the rare occasion where they don’t, you can rely on coverage under the Distinguished Fine Art & Collectibles Policy.

Your client’s best chance at protecting their valuable pieces of fine art or collectibles is by being aware of the risks outlined above and securing robust transit insurance coverage through Distinguished.

What Does Art Transit Insurance Cover?

Art Transit coverage from Distinguished includes broad terms that extend coverage to the majority of conditions that arise when art and collectibles are moved. This includes:

  • Pieces in transit: Whenever an owned piece of art is transported, this insurance would cover it from origin to destination (nail-to-nail or wall-to-wall), whether it’s transported by land, air, or sea. 
  • Newly acquired pieces: If a private client purchases a new piece for their art collection, it too will have coverage while it travels from the seller or art gallery to its new home.
  • In-storage pieces: At times, pieces may need to be in a warehouse while in transit. This coverage will protect your pieces in case any damage happens to them while they’re in art storage awaiting their final delivery. 
  • On-tour pieces: Art exhibitions frequently move between museums, cities, and countries. Our coverage would protect them throughout their journey.
  • Pieces at events: Pieces on the way to or from art fairs or exhibitions can be covered.

Distinguished’s art transport insurance coverage is designed to be a complete peace-of-mind solution for any personal collector, museum, corporation, artist, or art broker. If you believe you have a niche case, we’re happy to discuss the details and find an insurance solution that meets your client’s specific needs. 

What Determines the Costs of Art Transit Insurance?

Art transport insurance at Distinguished usually comes bundled with a larger Fine Art and Collectibles Insurance policy. Not only will this policy offer transit insurance, but it will also offer coverage for pieces stored at home, in a museum, or wherever it typically resides. 

The prices of these policies are determined by several factors, some of which include:

  • The size and value of the collection
  • The deductible for the policy
  • The type of collectible being insured and its unique risk profile
  • The location(s) of the collection
  • The frequency and type of travel the collection undergoes
  • The type of policy, be it a personal collector, museum, art dealer, etc.

Regarding art transport insurance, each policy will get a specific transit limit. Any transits of Covered Property that fall below that dollar amount do not need to be reported to Distinguished and are considered covered by the policy. 

For extraordinary or unusual situations that extend beyond normal conditions for this transit limit, an extension of coverage can be purchased for an additional cost based on factors like fragility, travel duration, distance, destination, and transit method.

What Are the Benefits of Distinguished’s Fine Art and Collectibles Insurance?

Comprehensive art transport insurance coverage is just one benefit of insuring your client’s collections through Distinguished. When you partner with Distinguished, you’ll also be able to offer your clients:

  • Peace of mind: Our nail-to-nail coverage is broad and flexible. We offer bespoke insurance policies that meet any client’s needs.
  • Better service: Our dedicated team is always ready and available to help you and your client at every stage of the insurance process. That’s why we can get you a quote faster and help you get a transit increase endorsement as soon as needed.
  • Industry expertise: Our underwriting team has been in this industry for a long time. So, we understand the intricacies of the art market and the affiliated and necessary movements/shipments needed for your client’s collection. 
  • Superior claims service: Our approach to claims is designed to focus on your clients’ specific needs. That means we aim for quick response times and approach every problem with a solution-based emphasis.
  • Invaluable connections: With expertise comes connections with top minds in the art world, from specialty fine art insurance brokers to appraisers, restorers, and more. 
  • Shared passion: Protecting rare and valuable collectibles and pieces of fine art is our passion. This translates into a team willing to go above and beyond to ensure your client’s collection always has the coverage it needs. 

Sign Up Today

To bring the protection of Distinguished to your client, you’ll first need to register your agency with us. Following this, you can complete our Fine Art and Collectibles application form to start the application process. 

To complete the form, you’ll need key information such as security measures, the properties covered, and any loss history. We also accept ACORD applications when accompanied by a Distinguished supplemental.

In specific instances, we may require additional documentation, like a consignment agreement in the case of a dealer or a detailed schedule of covered property for private collectors.

If you require further information about our Fine Art and Collectibles Insurance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or visit our Fine Art and Collectibles Insurance product page for in-depth details.

Art Transit Insurance FAQs

Can we purchase stand-alone Art Transport Insurance from Distinguished?

For a transit risk, your client would need to have an annual policy for their collection already.

How do I figure out what my property is worth?

An independent appraisal is the best way to determine your property’s value. When selecting an appraiser, look for the following:

  • Appropriate credentials like a USPAP certification
  • Membership in a professional association
  • A good reputation
  • Experience or specialization in the type of property you want to be appraised

When we are agreeing to a value for your property, we’ll ask for an appraisal (typically completed within 3-5 years prior to application) or an invoice or receipt from the purchase if the piece is new.

Who can we insure with your Fine Art and Collectibles Insurance Policy?

Our Fine Art and Collectibles Insurance Policy is perfect for:

  • Private art collectors
  • Gallery owners
  • Artists
  • Museums
  • Corporate entities
  • And more

Please email us at for any more questions about our insurance services.

About Distinguished Programs

Distinguished Programs is a leading national insurance Program Manager providing specialized insurance programs to brokers and agents with specific expertise in Fine Art and Collectibles, Environmental and Construction Professional, Executive Lines, Inland Marine, Real Estate & Builder’s Risk, Community Associations, Hotels, and Restaurants. Property and Liability products are distributed through a national network of agents and brokers. Serving the same core markets and partnering with the most stable and reputable carriers, Distinguished’s high-limit Umbrella programs remain the clear choice in its area of specialty for superior coverage, competitive pricing, and attentive service. Through thoughtful innovation, stemming back to 1995, Distinguished Programs fosters growth and opportunities for its brokers, carriers, and employees.

View a full list of our programs and submit business with Distinguished.

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