Part II: exclusions, considerations, filing a claim, and tips

This is the second part of a two-part blog series titled, “Music to my ears: Insurance coverage for musical instruments”. Part I covers policy options.

Professional and amateur musicians alike can purchase insurance to cover their instruments.

Musical instrument policies are subject to exclusions and requirements, which may vary. Requirements under the policy are another important component.


Some common exclusions in musical instrument coverage include:

  • Wear and tear, inherent defect, deterioration, and vermin damage.
  • Breakage of strings, reeds, or drumheads while the instrument is being played.
  • Neglect, such as the failure to maintain or properly store the instrument.
  • Loss or damage during maintenance, repair, or restoration.
  • Humidity, aridity, or temperature extremes (unless caused by storm or fire); condensation; dampness; frost; dust; effects of sunlight; fading; and changes in color, texture, or finish.
  • The cost to obtain an estimate or quote to replace or repair the musical instrument.
  • Damage or loss while the instrument is in an unattended vehicle (though cover may be obtained, sometimes limited by the night-time clause, excluding coverage for loss or damage of instruments left in a car between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. There may be no coverage without forced entry).
  • Transit by air, postal, or other delivery transit.
  • Costs as a result of being unable to use the musical instrument (which may be covered by business income loss coverage under a commercial policy).
  • Unexplained disappearance.
  • Intentional damage.
  • Damage due to pollutants.
  • Governmental or military action, war, and terrorism (though cover for terrorism may be purchased from some carriers as an endorsement for an additional premium).
  • Nuclear hazard.

Some exclusions may include anti-concurrent causation language, precluding coverage when the excluded cause of loss is involved, whether there are other causes or not. In particular, the nuclear hazard, war and military action, and pollution coverages may be excluded regardless of whether any other covered cause of loss is also present.

Other considerations

  • Valuation issues

Insurance carriers providing agreed value coverage require an appraisal for valuation purposes when they issue and/or renew a policy. Appraisals should be reviewed at renewal time, and they should be updated at least every three years. If the instrument is extremely rare, insurers may request their own appraiser prior to issuing coverage.

The value of the insured instruments may be determined at the time of loss or damage, even though an appraisal was required at the time of placement. The insurer may force the insured into arbitration or litigation regarding valuation. If your instrument is more than three years old, the policy should include new for old cover so you can get full replacement value.

  • Policy requirements


    • Care, repair, and replacement

Carriers frequently require insureds to properly care for the instruments. This due diligence clause requires the policyholder to take all reasonable care and measures to protect and maintain the instrument including keeping it in an appropriate case. For extremely expensive instruments, the policy may require extra security, such as a specialized lock or case. The policyholder may be required to ensure all fire alarms and security systems are fully engaged when a named location is empty, and inform the carrier if the system is not working properly.

You should review your policy to ensure you can choose your own repairer or instrument to replace the one that was lost or destroyed.

    • Limits

There may be different limits when the insured instrument is at a named location or unnamed location, or in transit.

    • Cooperation

Musical instrument policies frequently require the policyholder to cooperate with the carrier’s investigation in the event of loss or damage.

Like most policies, musical instrument policies may be voided if the policyholder makes a misrepresentation or engages in fraud in either the placement or claim process.

  • Coverage for rental instruments

If you are renting an instrument, consider rental insurance, frequently offered by the store from which the instrument is rented.

Filing a claim

Policyholders need to understand the notice requirements and requirements relating to filing a claim. This includes knowing to whom the notice should be sent, and under what circumstances. Policies frequently require claims be made “promptly,” “as soon as possible,” or “as soon as practicable” after the loss. Some policies require a claim be filed within a specific number of days, typically 30 or 60. Once you have provided notice, the carrier will likely have a specified time limit in which to pay the covered loss or damage, or request more information.

Be as accurate and thorough as possible in describing what occurred, and follow any instructions given by the insurance representative.

If your instrument is stolen, file a police report as well as notifying your carrier.

If your instrument is lost or damaged during air travel, report the damage to the airline, obtain a property irregularity or damage report, and retain your baggage claim ticket and tag(s).


  • Work with a broker established in instrument coverage, such as Marsh, H.W. International, Huntington T. Block, or Victor C. Knight.
  • Always review limits, coverages, exclusions, and terms and conditions.
  • If you purchase a new instrument, inform your carrier as soon as possible. Policies frequently provide limited coverage for new acquisitions, subject to notification of the purchase.
  • If the carrier fails to meet its obligations, there may be limitations on the policyholder’s remedies.
  • Ensemble members or members of teachers’ associations or unions may be eligible for a discount on insurance coverage if it is purchased as a group. Members should check with their ensemble or union about possible discounts

Contact an experienced insurance coverage attorney to assist with policy placement, review, negotiation, and renewal to ensure you understand what is covered and what is not, and, in the event the unthinkable occurs, with recovering under the policy.