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How much does music gear instrument insurance actually cost?

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Insuring your music gear, whether it's a guitar, amplifier, violin, cello or something else isn't something most musicians think about - until they actually need it.

Do you need it?

If you answer any one of the following questions with a yes, you need it:

There are basically two kinds of people who need gear insurance. Gigging musicians and collectors. And the type of insurance you get depends on which of the above describes you best.

Gigging musician gear insurance

The goal of insuring gear here is not necessarily to financially protect against theft (although that is included with the policy,) but rather to protect against things like damage and what's known in the insurance business as Acts of God.

These two things are easy to understand, as long as you know what is covered.

Damage

This is not necessarily for gear you own, but rather for gear you rent. When you gig out, it's probably true you'll be renting a lot of gear. If that gear gets damaged while gigging, the policy covers it for anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000, depending on how much you want to spend on the policy.

Can you put gear you already own on the policy? Yes, but it actually makes more sense to insure gear you just bought or are planning to buy because you absolutely know the value of it up front before insuring it. This makes things a lot easier as far as paperwork is concerned.

For example, at the time I write this, a brand new Fender Standard Stratocaster is 500 bucks. You know that the cost to replace that guitar is 500, so that's what you insure it for. If you want to accommodate for things like tax and shipping, add in that as well (which would make it around $540 or $550.)

Can you be compensated for if gear is not totally destroyed but damaged from wear and repaired? Most of the time, yes. Again, it depends on what the policy covers.

Acts of God

An example of this would be a naturally occurring disaster that causes damage or outright destroys gear. Flood, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, etc. That sort of thing.

Some music gear insurance policies cover this, but most don't.

HOW MUCH?

Depending on where you go, it starts at about $150 a year for a basic policy.

Classical musician instrument insurance

If you play a classical instrument, the insurance policy is not all that different from a gigging musician who insures his guitars and amps. However, the type of claim is different because it's usually true the classical instrument in question requires an appraisal first, hence why it's separated out as a different policy altogether.

The most valuable thing to a classical musician concerning the policy is usually rental reimbursement while their primary instrument is being repaired, should it get damaged. Any good policy that insures a classical instrument should have that kind of coverage.

HOW MUCH?

About the same price as the gigging musician's policy; a basic policy starts at $150 a year.

Musical gear insurance for collectors

This is totally different from the insurance for gigging musicians and classical players, because you are not insuring an instrument that gets played regularly. Rather, you are insuring a thing that will probably rarely if ever be played and either sits in a display case or is stored in a guitar case in a secured location.

If you are a guitar player, it is most likely true the guitar you want to insure is an antique. That being said, you would insure it as a collectible.

If you use GEICO, they do in fact have collectibles insurance, and you could insure a collectible guitar with them if you wanted to - if the guitar qualifies as a collectible.

It's the qualifying process that can be really annoying, because it usually involves someone (usually an appraiser) to say, "Yeah, that guitar is worth X", with X being the value that the appraiser, you, and the insurance company all agree upon.

Fortunately, there are many insurance companies that have collectibles insurance policy options. If you absolutely cannot find anyone local that insures collectibles for some weird reason, find your nearest antique shop and ask the owner what he or she uses. They'll usually be happy to tell you because nobody ever asks about that stuff, and people are happy to tell their stories about it.

HOW MUCH?

It depends on the collectible and what the policy covers.

There are some instances where you can get $10,000 worth of collectibles insurance for just $50 a year. But of course the higher the coverage, the higher the price of the policy. Maybe you could get $100,000 worth of coverage for $250 a year, or maybe it will be higher. You won't know until you decide how much coverage you want and then checking out what the rates are.

Another factor is what the policy covers and more importantly what it doesn't. Maybe it covers just theft but not Acts of God. Maybe it won't kick in its full coverage until you've had the insurance for some time (anywhere from 90 days to a year or maybe even longer.)

And of course there's the other factor of whether or not the policy allows for easy adding in or removing of collectible items. Chances are if you're a guitar collector, you will both acquire and sell off a few from time to time. How easy or difficult would it be to remove an item from the policy? Or what would be involved to add an item and how long would it take?

Is this kind of insurance easily available online?

It is, but bear in mind it's still handled old-school style to a large degree because it's not the same as insuring a car or a boat.

With a car, you can go online and have an insurance policy active and ready-to-use in less than 15 minutes.

With music gear whether it's a collectible or for gigging, the process is nowhere near as fast as that. There will be an application process and that will take time. There may be an appraisal involved and that will take more time. And it's probably true that a few phone calls will be involved along with a few faxes sent or letters mailed.

In other words, it's not quick, and there's really no way to make it quick.

Yes, you can get the insurance online, but just don't expect it to be a quick-and-easy signup process.

Tips on speeding up the application process

Insuring new gear is always easier than old gear because no appraisal is required. Just a receipt either sent by fax or postal mail is usually all that is needed.

When going to insure old gear, find out up front what the insurance company wants for appraisal specifics, as that usually will be the longest part of the application process. Some companies get really nitpicky about it while others don't.

Whenever phone calls are required, always call before noon, their time zone. Insurance is as boring as as bump on a stump, and the office turns into a total yawn-fest after lunch where people start getting really lazy. Call between 9am and 11am and things will usually go much smoother.

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