5 Tips for Insuring Sheet Music

Make sure you're not missing a trick! As the Orchestra Insurance Program continues to grow, we've come across some important gaps in orchestras' insurance arrangements. These 5 tips are drawn from orchestras we've been working with recently…

1. Valuation
Think carefully about how you value your sheet music library: it's not just about the purchase or replacement price. If you lost part of your library in a fire or in transit, how much time would it take/cost to recompile the parts with markings and bowings? Perhaps you've inherited scores from well-known conductors or artists, which are now historic/collectible items? What would be their market value at auction? If you haven't valued your library in the past 2 years, it's time for a review. You could gain an easy indication with a "by the yard" approach (take a sample yard of shelf space), or by working from your inventory.

2. Sum insured
Be smart about what sum you opt to insure - you may have a huge library, but would you actually want to replace it all? Perhaps your artistic policy has changed and moved away from certain repertoire? Perhaps you inherited repertoire from other sources, that wouldn't actually need replacing? Secondly, think carefully about your sum insured and any listing for sheet music on your balance sheet: there may be a reason for a discrepancy (depreciation etc), but if your sum insured is much lower than the figure in your balance sheet, a loss could have a double impact by hitting your balance sheet too. If you're unsure, talk it through with us.

3. Co-insurance
Look out for co-insurance clauses in your policy - these could really restrict your claim settlement (the Orchestra Insurance Program doesn't have such clauses). Co-insurance is often set at 80% - the insurer allows you 20% latitude for miscalculation, but thereafter, your settlement is reduced. So if you've insured your sheet music for $50,000 and it turns out to cost $100,000 to replace, you'd only get $25,000 of your $50,000 claim because you only insured 50% of the true value. That's quite a hit if you've actually lost $100,000 of sheet music in a fire.

4. List it
With some orchestras "making do" with standard office policies, we often see no mention of sheet music on policies - or sometimes it's listed as "valuable papers". But "valuable papers" are usually only covered at the premises specified on your policy - and rehearsals and concerts take place in all sorts of locations. It's important to list "sheet music" specifically as an asset on your policy, and list any off-site storage location too. The Orchestra Insurance Program covers your library anywhere in the US.

5. Storage
As well as assessing your sheet music storage facility in terms of security and fire safety, think through other threats to the library. Insurance policies won't cover gradual wear and tear from damp or mold - so be careful about basement storage facilities and other inappropriate locations.

Think smart about insuring your library - it's well worth a small investment of time.

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