Painting How To: Insuring Your Artwork

The matter of whether to insure your artwork or any other stuff connected with your art business is something you should consider seriously. Even if you don’t take out insurance, you need to take steps to minimize the risk of losing your artwork or causing damage to it.

I’ve had a number of things happen to me that resulted in lost paintings, not to mention lost money. I’ll mention some of them to you so you won’t make the same mistakes.

The easiest way to lose a painting is to put it where someone can walk away with it. I lost one painting this way when I was moving a bunch of them about. I simply forgot to pick it up. By the time I had come back to get it, it was gone.  When moving paintings, make a list, check each one off, and don’t leave any of them behind unless there’s someone there who’ll watch over them.

painting of a ranch, ranch watercolor art, ranch picture

Click Picture to Purchase: "View of Slova Ranch, Los Osos Valley Rd"

The same thing happened with my cash box at an exhibit. I was distracted by someone interested in one of my paintings and walked away from the box that also had my receipt book and calculator in it. When I came back, it was gone.  Since then, I tie the chain from the cash box around the leg of a chair and take the receipt book and calculator out. I haven’t had any further problems with theft since.

If you’re traveling and leave paintings behind with someone to keep or to sell, make up a list, and get them to sign and date it. Make certain also that they will be stored someplace safe, and in a manner where they won’t get damaged or destroyed.

Commercial galleries will usually insure your work.  That’s one of the reasons they charge a sales commission. However, most public venues notify exhibitors that artwork is not covered by insurance. Artists must therefore exhibit artwork at their own risk.  It makes sense when you exhibit work with others in public venues to take your turn volunteering to sit the gallery, so you can observe firsthand the degree of risk you may be exposed to, but also to help you decide whether you want to participate in such exhibits in the future.

When shipping your work, make sure it’s insured or be willing to accept the risk of losing it if it’s not. Know what the limits are on such insurance.  Minimize your risk by packaging your artwork properly, removing any glass and replacing it with Plexiglas.

Click Picture to Purchase: "View from Burtners' Home, High Mtn Rd, Lopez/Hausna, CA"

Be aware also that most auto and home insurance policies do not provide the kind of coverage for your artwork that you might expect.  Though likely have coverage for any personal property stolen from your home or apartment, you likely do not have coverage for anything once it has been removed. If artwork is included in your insurance policy, check to identify what the standard deductible amount for paintings might be.  You may wish to pay out something additionally in order to reduce this amount, thus covering the value of your artwork.

Personal items stolen from your car are generally not covered by auto insurance. It therefore makes sense to conceal your artwork and supplies while it’s in your car: don’t leave it out in the open.

If your business is painting, you need a re-sales license. Then, you should be aware that your personal home insurance coverage will not apply to your art business.  Consider taking out a separate insurance policy if you have a lot of paintings at home or elsewhere. One reason I moved most of my paintings from home was to minimize my exposure to such loss.

Douglas Stenhouse also wrote a book about watercolor painting.

“I decided to write about how I paint, not only to share my observations with others, but also, frankly, to do some self- examination. I wish I had done this earlier in my life! But then, how was I to know I’d benefit from doing so, certainly at a time when I had no aspirations of becoming a professional artist.” 

To learn more about Doug’s Watercolor Painting Book, click here. To purchase a signed copy, use the link below.


Douglas Simms Stenhouse, watercolor artist, transparent water color art, watercolor painter, painting with water colors