We field so many questions for our customers, and one that comes up from time to time is, “What kind of insurance do I need for my piano?” Thankfully, the answer for most people is that your piano is covered under your homeowner’s policy, however there are precautions you can take should the unexpected happen. There are so many kinds of pianos and so many kinds of insurance that you should also make a phone call to your agent to clarify your own needs. This article addresses questions from the piano owner’s perspective.
A piano is a significant investment for most people, and because of its long lifespan, it will travel with you through life…come what may. One of the most basic protections you can give yourself is to make a good record of what piano you actually have. Keep a record of the piano’s brand, serial number, model if possible, and size. I also recommend taking a few photos. Replacement value is often determined by this information. Any time a piano changes ownership, it’s good to have an estimate of value. Your receipt can serve as this, but if you inherit a piano, it is worthwhile to have an appraisal.
Most homeowner’s policies have coverage limits as well as special limits on certain items like jewelry, computers, firearms, collectibles, etc. Your piano will probably fall under general household goods, but it may warrant a personal property insurance rider. It is also worth reviewing your policy for terms like “market value” or “replacement value.” When insuring a piano, you want “new replacement value” or the option to make satisfactory repairs to your original piano. It is increasingly difficult to replace a used instrument with a similar used instrument either because of availability or establishing equivalent condition.
What to do when something bad happens.
You’ve had a small fire in your home. The piano received smoke damage. You may not realize, but the piano also likely experienced damage from intense dry then wet condition (putting out the fire). Or you had a tree fall and damage your roof allowing the rain to come in. Or you had a pipe burst leading to flooding. You need to call a professional piano mover to remove the piano and place it into climate controlled storage right away. You do not want the piano in the home when they are doing standard reclamation and further subject the piano to a harsh climate. You can later get detailed evaluations of the piano’s condition and consider your options.
Because a piano is so environmentally sensitive, it is sometimes the reclamation period that does the worst damage. As an example, there was a business in Atlanta that had damage to the roof, rain coming in for several days. The piano was in the room, but not in the direct path of the rain. To dry out the room, large heaters and fans were brought in and the room sealed. We arrived to remove the piano just a few days later. The indoor temp was near 100 degrees, and humitidy very low. The ribs were now separated from the soundboard initiating the need for full restoration. The necessary level of repair would have been much less had we gotten to the piano sooner.
Should your piano be in the direct path of the damage, it will be your records and accurate description that will be most valuable in satisfying your claim.
What to do if your piano is damaged in transportation.
Home movers have varying degrees of experience when it comes to moving pianos. They also tend to have less specialized equipment than professional piano movers. If your piano is damaged in transportation, it most likely falls to the responsibility of the moving company and their insurance. It is probably not covered under your homeowner’s policy. If the damage is superficial, document the incident and speak with the moving company. Most will sub-contract the repair work or just ask for the repair bill. There are finish repair specialists for pianos to handle the variety of finish types. You may need to contact a local piano dealership for a recommendation.
If, however, the damage seems more than superficial, it may be best to refuse delivery and initiate the claim offsite. If you have already accepted delivery of an internally damaged piano, contract a reputable repair company to assist you. Be patient. Sometimes these cases can be very slow to resolve. You may or may not be able to negotiate a loaner piano during this period. Keep in mind that your piano’s value may be tough to determine, but replacement value is much simpler. The important question for the policy holder is, “Do the repairs have to cost more than the current value or more than the replacement value to be ‘totalled’?” Keep that in mind as you review the suggested repairs.
If you are in the extended metro-Atlanta area and are in need of support for your piano as part of an insurance claim, please contact us and we can assist you from beginning to end.
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