FINE ART VALUATIONS—FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here we try to answer some of the questions which we are asked regularly. If you would like any further information please feel free to contact us.
WHY INSURE AT ALL?
In the event of a loss, the insured is put in the same financial position as just prior to that loss. Although underwriters reserve the right to reinstate items of value, often they will pay out a cash equivalent and let the insured replace the lost items for themselves. It is therefore important that the more valuable items are adequately listed and recorded in a way which complies with insurers' requirements.
It is generally thought that the person most likely to be able to give an unbiased assessment is an independent valuer (called an appraiser in the USA), who has no involvement in the process of purchase. Most independent art and antique valuers are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in their Fine Art and Chattels Division, chattels meaning anything moveable in a house.
HOW SOON CAN THE VALUATION BE DONE?
Valuations are carried out as soon as is possible. Most inventories are undertaken within a week of receiving instructions and a draft valuation is sent out shortly after for client approval. Valuations involving larger quantities, generally those with contents over £500,000 may take slightly longer.
Urgent probate work will be arranged immediately. We have contacts with carriers to clear a property at short notice where there is a security problem.
HOW LONG WILL THE VALUATION TAKE?
We always try to give clients some idea of how long a valuation will take when we are first contacted. In particular it is useful to know the size of house and the number of rooms, the range of pieces to be valued and the current sum insured. Quotations are given upon request. We are always prepared to work for a daily fee to provide as much information as possible in the time agreed.
WHAT SHOULD I GET VALUED?
Underwriters requirements do tend to change over the years, for example the events of September 11th, 2001 prompted some insurers to insist that their clients provided them with valuations of individual items worth over a certain figure, otherwise they would not be adequately insured; this generally varied from £1000 to £2500. It can now be as high as £15,000 depending on your insurer.
Certainly underwriters have pushed up insurance premiums markedly in the last few years after many years of slow growth; these had been fairly static since 1995.
HOW DO WE GET OUR WORK?
The majority of the insurance work that we carry out comes from the personal recommendation of insurance brokers and, sometimes, insurance companies although traditionally companies and underwriters used not to make personal recommendations.
Many insurers have lists of valuers whose inventories they see regularly. We are on the approved list of valuers for the high net worth fine art and antiques underwriters Chubb and Axa Art and offer clients referred by them a discount on our standard fees. Almost all probate work comes from solicitor recommendations, many of whom are specialists in the area of trustee and executor work. All trust, expert witness and divorce work also comes from this source. A much smaller percentage comes from general advertising.
Loss adjusting tends to come from established firms of loss adjusters who do not have their own in-house specialists and therefore seek our specialist advice.
Vetting and buying on commission are from private and corporate clients for whom we have acted in the past, although we have also worked with architects to furnish private and company premises with art and antiques.
Instructions for selling selected items are generally received from private individuals, usually those for whom we have previously worked. Complete house contents sales are more likely to come from executors of estates after a probate valuation has been carried out and it has been decided to sell the property and / or contents.
HOW DO WE SET OUR FEES?
Fees for inventories and valuations are charged at a competitive hourly or daily rate plus VAT. Axa Art and Chubb clients receive a 10% discount on insurance work fees. Please tell us your details at the time of booking.
Private treaty sales are charged at 10% of the agreed sale price.
For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.