The lowdown on ad valorem insurance

Shipping art is always nerve-wracking: will it be protected enough? Will it arrive intact? What happens if it gets damaged? What does my insurance cover?

Rest assured, there’s an insurance policy designed especially to cover risks that may arise when shipping valuable items: ad valorem insurance. Read on to find out more.

What’s the difference between ad valorem insurance and regular shipping insurance?

First and foremost, let’s make the distinction between regular shipping insurance and ad valorem insurance. Regular shipping insurance covers any lost or damaged goods if the transporter is liable. Depending on the transport method, compensation is usually based on weight with a ceiling for handling fees.

Ad valorem insurance means “according to value”. It’s additional insurance that covers financial uncertainties related to shipping, using the actual value of the goods guaranteed by the sender as the basis in the event of loss or damage. Taking out ad valorem insurance is not compulsory and may be requested by the sender or by a broker for the shipping agency.

difference between insurance ad valorem and transport insurance.

Why is it advisable to take out ad valorem when shipping artwork?

It may be optional but it’s best to take out ad valorem for art shipments for the simple reason that its trade value is usually higher. So it’s worth covering the actual value of the goods and not their weight.

In the event of loss or damage, the transporter’s liability is restricted by strict international agreements. If the sender hasn’t taken out specific insurance, they will only be partly covered for damage even if the transporter is at fault. Worse still, the transporter can be exonerated of any liability if there’s proof the loss or damage was caused by a force majeure (i.e. an unpredictable, extraordinary event beyond anyone’s control) and the sender will not receive any compensation.

Taking out ad valorem insurance guarantees the sender the full declared value of their artwork no matter its weight or features.

How does ad valorem insurance work?

Ad valorem insurance applies to any form of transport: road, air, sea or river. The items are covered from shipment to delivery. Each valuable item is covered even if the transporter is not liable.

Senders tend to have two options when they take out ad valorem insurance: “major events” and “comprehensive”:

  • The major events option covers goods in the event of fire, theft or accident
  • The comprehensive option applies to any items damaged or lots in transit.

Please note that ad valorem insurance only applies if the risk and damage occur during transit.

ad valorem insurance how does it works

Protecting your artwork also involves using quality packaging and transport!

Do you want to use Moviiu to pack and ship your artwork? We also provide ad valorem insurance to ship your items with peace of mind.


Photo by Fahrul Azmi ; Nigel Tadyanehondo ; Bruno van der Kraan