Property insurance

How should works of art be insured at exhibitions? ➢ Exhibition insurance

What should be borne in mind when transporting works of art, stage sets etc.? ➢ Transport insurance

What possibilities does it offer and what should be borne in mind in particular? ➢ Musical instruments insurance

How can you insure yourself against the cancellation of events? ➢ Cancellation insurance

Exhibition insurance

How should works of art be insured at exhibitions? 

Whenever an artist exhibits or lends artworks, the exhibition or loan agreement (sample loan agreement) should specify that the contract partner will insure the artworks for transport “nail to nail“ (meaning from the start of disassembly at site A to completion of assembly at site B and/or its return to site A) – also for cross-border transports – as well as for the duration of the exhibition.

As a general rule, organisers of art exhibitions should take out all-risk insurance. Every form of loss or damage should be covered: damage/loss during transport, theft, damage of exhibits by visitors or staff, as well as damage caused by defects at the venue. To prevent disputes, exemptions should be identified and clearly excluded. It is important to ensure that the contractual terms and conditions are worded clearly and unambiguously.


A work by a Spanish artist is stolen at an exhibition in Vienna.

For the Spanish artist this would mean that the theft of his work is covered by the gallery’s insurance, provided that the organiser has taken out all-risk insurance. If the gallery is not insured, it would have to compensate the loss out of its own assets.


An Austrian-based artist is invited by an organiser abroad to display her works at an exhibition. The latter does not procure insurance coverage for the period of the exhibition. What should the artist do?

Any such behaviour by an organiser is irresponsible, but not uncommon. If, in spite of everything, the artist decides to accept the invitation to the exhibition, she may buy insurance for her works herself. She should at any rate consult an insurance expert (agent or broker) who can submit an offer for the case at hand. In general, exhibition insurance tends to be very costly.


Before dispatching your own works of art to the site of an exhibition, ask the organiser for a confirmation of insurance, so as to be prepared in the event of loss or damage.

For a quote, the insurer needs the following preliminary information: precise description of the artworks to be insured, value (sales price), information on transport (who is responsible for shipment, which route and which means of transport have been chosen, what kind of safety packaging has been provided for), information on the venue of the exhibition (structural condition, climatic conditions, safety installations).

Transport insurance

What should be borne in mind when transporting works of art, stage sets etc.? 

Most incidents of loss or damage occur during transport and/or loading and unloading. Transport insurance is meant to protect equipment on tours and works of art when being shipped to exhibitions.

In most cases, special transport insurance is unnecessary, since the different forms of insurance usually overlap. “Nail-to-nail” exhibition insurances as are common in the industry include the transport route; a musical instrument insurance includes also the transport risk. Bulky objects such as stage sets are usually transported by a forwarding agent where transport is insured.

What should artists bear in mind if they transport works of art or equipment themselves?


An Austrian artist transports his own works of art in his car to an exhibition in Croatia and collects them personally after the event. On site, his works are insured by the organiser.

The artist may take out transport insurance himself. When concluding the contract, he has to specify which type of objects are to be transported. The insurance premium will then be calculated individually based on this information.

Beforehand, the artist should consider whether the value of the works of art, the risk and the sum insured are commensurate to make insurance worthwhile. Often, this does not pay off for artists at the beginning of their careers. The sum insured is normally based on current sales prices and may therefore be relatively low.

Please note

Make sure to carefully study the insurer’s requirements as to the type of stowage and packaging of the objects. If these are stringent, the insurance may not be liable for compensation if the insured event occurs.


A self-employed dancer drives from Austria via Italy to France in a rented car. In the car, she carries parts of the stage set, her colleague’s cello and rented amplifier boxes. The car is stolen in Italy during daytime on a motorway service station together with everything in it.

Legally, the dancer is not at fault. As regards the transport, which she has offered to do free of charge, one can presume that, in legal terms, exemption of liability has been tacitly agreed. Financial compensation would only be paid if the transport had been insured.

Her colleague is not entitled to claim damages from the artist. The theft of the cello may however be covered by his own musical instrument insurance.

With private transports you should always agree beforehand on what is to happen in the case of loss or damage.


Musicians or theatre groups performing at night should make sure that objects stored in a vehicle/truck are insured also between 10:00 p.m. and 06:00 a.m. (no night-time clause). This however will increase the insurance premium by approx. 25%.

Please note

Insurance of transports to Eastern European countries tends to be costly or – depending on the insurer – not possible at all. Some rental car companies do not allow you to take the car to certain countries.


An artist sends three works on paper per postal mail to Switzerland. Their total value is EUR 1,000. To what extent do transport companies and a courier service provide insurance?

The sum insured may be included with the transport operator at a surcharge. If the artist were to send paintings regularly by post, she could take out a separate insurance with a minimum term of one year. This is often less expensive than one-time insurance by the transport operator.

Musical instruments insurance

What can it offer and what should specifically be borne in mind? 

A musical instruments insurance is most practical, since instruments are frequently used, transported and left or stored at various different sites.

This insurance can be taken out with different geographical coverage e.g. the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein), all of Europe, or worldwide.

Basic coverage generally provides insurance for the following: transport accidents, fire, lightning, explosion, natural disasters, pipe bursts, robbery, breaking and entering. More expensive policies provide additional cover for: theft and loss, breakage and damage, accidental loss (mix-up) or leaving behind of instruments, water penetration. The premium will depend on the value of the instrument.


Musicians or theatre groups performing at night should make sure that storage in a car/truck is insured also between 10:00 p.m. and 06:00 a.m. (no night-time clause which would include e.g. only storage in surveyed car parks). This will however increase the insurance premium by approx. 25 %.

Please note

You must arrange for a special agreement with the insurer if you want electronic instruments such as e.g. effects pedals or laptops to be covered.

Cancellation insurance

How can you insure yourself against the cancellation of events? 

Cancellation insurance

Especially with events which depend on the presence of certain persons or works of art, you should think about taking out cancellation insurance. If a soloist of a dance performance falls ill, the organiser or the company may be facing significant costs and financial losses. In general, the contract stipulates a penalty which the company or band will have to pay if it is responsible for cancellation. Even if events can be called off early enough and compensation claims are not raised, sizeable costs may have arisen for advertising and preparation.


A band has been invited to an open-air festival. Due to heavy rain, the concert has to be called off.

Usually, the contract with the organiser will govern liability in case of cancellation. Ideally, the organiser himself is insured and defrays all costs, even though the event is cancelled (fees, travel expenses, advertising, rental and assembly of technical facilities etc.). Some contracts contain clauses on force-majeure incidents upon the occurrence of which the organiser and/or the insurer will not defray the costs.

When concluding the agreement the band should make sure that, in case of cancellation, the organiser will at least defray all costs which have accrued and that, ideally, the fees are fully paid in advance.

Please note

If the organiser is not insured or if reimbursement of costs is excluded in the agreement, artists should preferably take out cancellation insurance themselves. This also applies if artists act as organisers themselves.


An Austrian theatre group ships its stage set through a forwarding agent to Venezuela. The set, however, does not arrive on time, which is why the event has to be called off.

In this case you should find out before the contract is signed whether the organiser in Venezuela is insured and what is covered by insurance. Equally, the terms of liability laid down in the contract with the forwarding agent should be carefully checked beforehand. If there is no sufficient insurance cover, the Austrian theatre group should take out cancellation insurance in Austria before its departure and, as appropriate, also insurance which will protect it from loss/damage of the stage set.

Who is an organiser