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Art Appraisals and Value

Things You Should Know When Insuring Your Art

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Value is subjective, and while the "value" of any piece of art is often determined by answering the question, "How much will someone pay for the artwork?" the answer does not usually satisfy insurers.

At The Erin Hanson Gallery, we get asked about appraisals frequently. While an art gallery does not typically have an appraiser on staff, we understand the need and value. There are many reasons to get art appraised -- beyond buying insurance. These include:

  • You'd like to know your material worth before writing a will or interacting with a financial institution.
  • You are inheriting artwork and need to understand its value.
  • You are selling a piece.
  • You are curious and have the money to hire an appraiser.
  • You are about to lend artwork to a museum or other institution.
  • The art is damaged, and you'd like to know if it's worth replacing or repairing.

Summer Shadow by Erin Hanson
Collection of The Allegretto Vineyard Resort, Paso Robles, CA. 2015

How Do I Find Out the Value of My Art? 

Answering this question can be tricky. This is where a professional appraiser comes in. You can find a good appraiser by:

  • Asking friends or fellow art lovers
  • Contacting a professional auction house
  • Using a reputable organization's website. Three respected U.S. associations of appraisers are the American Society of Appraisers, the Appraisers Association of America, and the International Society of Appraisers
  • Asking a local gallery for recommendations
  • Using an online search engine

You will want to ensure any appraiser is reputable and a part of an official association. Two things are considered "non-negotiable" in working with an appraiser: that they will perform their due diligence and that they will personally inspect the artwork. 

Fine art appraisal is based on many factors. The valuation is simple for our gallery because we sell one artist's work (Erin Hanson) and have records and provenance for each piece that has sold. We often create a document for collectors specifically designed for insurance companies or financial institutions to assist in these matters. 

There are insurance companies whose sole focus is on fine art and luxury items. These insurance companies may be more willing to insure fine art for its full value.

Typically, insurance providers will require records including:
- The price at auction or current market value
- The purchase price
- The projected replacement cost
- The declared value (sometimes called the "day one value")

What is Art Insurance?

As stated, one of the main reasons we get asked about art appraisal is for insurance purposes. There are a few companies that insure art and only art. But there are many companies that will insure art along with other collectibles.

Art insurance is a great way to get compensated if your art is stolen, damaged by a house fire or flood, or if there is another similar circumstance. However, many things are not covered by art insurance -- even if you work with a company that specializes in art and collectibles. So, be sure to read your insurance policy and make sure it covers everything you want. If it doesn't, there are other policies out there.

Something else to understand is that art insurance will only cover the appraised price of artwork -- not necessarily the price you paid. Again, this is a great reason to work with the appraiser to help them get all the information they need to attain fair comparables so that they can value your art at a high price, allowing you to get the maximum out of your insurance coverage. It may also be in your favor to get your artwork newly appraised at intervals. 

Art insurance is not just for your peace of mind. It can also be required in particular circumstances, like donating work to a museum, using art as an investment, placing art in a commercial building, or living in an area with high flood/fire risks.

Please be sure to inquire with your insurance company regarding coverage for transit losses. In an interview with Huntington T. Block, the operating unit of Aon (a noted general underwriter for fine art insurance in the US), artwork is most vulnerable when it is on the move, and more specifically, "85% of our claims are derived from transit losses." Relocating or consolidating may be a prime excuse to get your artwork freshly appraised, and updated with your insurance provider. 

As you build your collection, you will likely be able to determine when art insurance is necessary - and which pieces most likely need insurance.

Dawning Sky by Erin Hanson

At The Erin Hanson Gallery, we are happy to work with you to provide the information needed for a fair appraisal. Get in touch with us at (503) 334-3670. 


Erin Hanson ArtistERIN HANSON has been painting in oils since she was 8 years old. As a young artist, she worked at a mural studio creating 40-foot-tall paintings on canvas, while selling art commissions on the side. After getting a degree in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley, Erin became a rock climber at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Inspired by the colorful scenery she was climbing, she decided to paint one painting every week for the rest of her life. She has stuck to that decision ever since, becoming one of the most prolific artists in history. Erin Hanson's style is known as "Open Impressionism" and is now taught in art schools worldwide. With thousands of collectors eagerly anticipating her work and millions of followers online, Hanson has become an iconic, driving force in the rebirth of contemporary impressionism.

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