MS&H Blog

Preventing loss to your on-board collection

Source:  AIG Private Client Group

A yacht is unlike any other venue for displaying art. It moves constantly, and it passes through various climates and political boundaries. As a result, keeping your collection on-board presents a unique set of challenges. We’ve compiled the following recommendations to help you lessen the chance of accidents and other preventable losses.

Improving Security

On land or at sea, works of art are attractive targets for thieves. However, most art thefts are crimes of opportunity that easily could have been prevented. Collections housed on a yacht face a greater security risk because of increased access, whether by crew, charter guests or service personnel. The risk is heightened further whenever the yacht goes into a yard.
What you can do
• Conduct background checks on all staff and vendors; thefts often are inside jobs.
• Arm the security system whenever your boat is moored. You may find it helpful to create several zones on your alarm panel, so that you can arm the perimeter even when you are on board.
• Consider attaching individual alarm contacts to particularly high-valued items so the alarm system will be triggered if they are moved.
• For an additional layer of protection, separate radio-frequency identification (RFID) software systems can be used to wirelessly track the movement of objects throughout the boat.
• Bolt safes into the structure of your boat so they cannot be removed.
• If you intend to move your collection into storage for an extended period, identify facilities near your port that specialize in fine art. They may offer related services, such as packing, crating and transit.

Controlling the Environment

Collections on yachts face a number of natural impediments to preservation: water, humidity, sun and salt.
What you can do
• As much as possible, maintain a consistent temperature and relative humidity (RH), and try to ensure that any environmental changes occur gradually. For yachts with climate control systems, the environmental levels best suited for displaying a general collection are 68- 75 ° F (20- 21 ° C) and an RH of 45- 65%. Consult a conservator for specific recommendations for your collection.
• Ask a conservator to conduct an annual or seasonal walk-through to look for any changes in conditions that need to be stabilized. In humid environments, be particularly vigilant in guarding against the onset of mold.
• Have a framer fully encase works that are particularly susceptible to damage due to their materials or location on the boat.
• To minimize the negative long-term effects of both direct and indirect sunlight, consider applying UV filtering films to windows. This protection is maintenance free and virtually undetectable when installed properly.

Avoiding accidents
Our claims experience shows that a majority of fine art claims are due to accidental damages. On a yacht, this risk increases due to confined spaces and constant pitching and healing.

What You Can Do

• Proper installation using specialized hardware is paramount. Whenever possible, valuable works should be installed under the guidance of a professional art handler. A yacht presents a unique set of challenges, because walls may have shallow backing and be covered with premium finishes. If you have a new yacht under construction, discuss art installation with your project manager and/or builder during the early planning stages.
• When deciding where to install art, look beyond the aesthetics. Consider the location of doors and pathways, and place objects in areas that are not highly trafficked.

Insuring Sufficiently

In addition to its aesthetic value, art is an asset class. When managed properly, insurance can help protect your financial investment.
What you can do
• The best way to insure fine art is with a distinct private collections insurance policy.
• Maintain current valuations to ensure that works will be covered adequately in the event of a claim. Typically, we recommend that appraisals be updated no less than every three to five years. Consult your appraiser to find out what is recommended for your collection.
• Remember to insure your wine, a valuable that often is overlooked.

Maintaining Documentation

Keeping thorough inventory records not only helps you track your assets, but in the event of a loss, a detailed inventory also facilitates the claims process.
What you can do
• Maintain a complete inventory of all items on board, and make updates as items are added or removed. The format can be as simple as a comprehensive list, but we recommend entering descriptions and images into a secure computerized collections management database.
• Keep a copy of your inventory in a fire and water-resistant file cabinet or a pelican case. Keep a second copy off the vessel.
• When traveling internationally, have appropriate paperwork on hand, such as customs and CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) documents, and copies of appraisals and receipts.

Preparing for Disasters

Like other insurable property, collections on yachts are vulnerable to disasters including hurricanes, flooding, tsunamis and fires.
What you can do
• Talk to your captain to ensure that your yacht’s emergency plan considers the security of your collection. Include a list of objects to be evacuated, the tools needed and detailed instructions to follow. Most importantly, decide who will be responsible for quickly and effectively implementing the disaster plan if you are unreachable.
• Identify specialized service providers—storage facilities, art handlers, framers, conservators and shippers—in the ports you visit regularly. Ensure they are familiar with your collection and yacht layout.

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