Insuring items on loan and in transit

Best practices include creating a detailed loan agreement
By: | Issue: August/September, 2019
August 21, 2019
Collection Exploration—In the main reading room of the Rhode Island School of Design’s library, noted for its artist book collection and located in a former bank building, students and faculty can get up close and personal with items from the archives and special collections.

Valuables aren’t always permanent fixtures on a university campus. Some may be on loan from an individual or another institution. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be insured.

For any valuable coming on to campus, a detailed loan agreement should be in place before the institution takes possession. “It’s really about assessing your exposure and managing the risk through insurance and other policies and procedures,” says Jennifer Howley, risk and emergency manager at the Rhode Island School of Design.

What this agreement includes will vary based on the piece and the lending organization. But at a minimum, the loan policy should include information on who is responsible for theft or damage to the item while it is on campus (and therefore, whose insurance policy will cover the loss) and a valuation.

“When something comes in, there’s a value assigned by the donor or the donor gets an appraisal, and that is entered into our database, but the curatorial department is charged with making sure the value is accurate,” says L.Lynne Addison, registrar at the Yale University Art Gallery. Likewise, when something is out on loan, the owner must be sure it has an accurate value.

Because it’s rare that valuables—on loan, proactively acquired or donated—show up on campus unannounced, higher ed institutions should also have a solid policy in place regarding the transportation of these items. Such a policy will account for who will be responsible for transporting and securing the item. Depending on the arrangement with the organization or individual providing the item, the insurance policy of the school, the individual sending the item or the shipping company could cover any damage or loss while the valuable is packed, moved and unpacked again.

A transportation policy should also clearly outline at what point the university becomes responsible for the item (i.e., once the delivery vehicle arrives on campus, after that item is unpacked, etc.).

Read the main story: 5 considerations for buying insurance for campus valuables