Whether you’re an aspiring, amateur or professional musician, if you travel with your instrument it’s important to plan ahead for potential mishaps. Damage, theft or loss of your instrument can be costly, but certain types of insurance can help.
Insurance for Musical Instruments
The best place to start is with your renters or homeowners insurance policy. These policies generally cover damage and theft, even if you’re across the world with your instrument. Check your policy to see if there’s a special limit per item, which could mean your instrument won’t be fully covered.
Also be aware that home or renters insurance for damage to personal property—like a musical instrument—only applies when damage is caused by one of several specific perils, like fire or vandalism. Problems such as floods and earthquakes typically aren’t covered by home or renters insurance.
The solution is to “schedule” the musical instrument, which means buying a special rider for it from your renters or home insurance company. Scheduling it will provide broader coverage and you can insure the piece for its full value. (You may need an appraisal for the value amount.)
If your main concern is damage during travel, another option is to use a travel insurance policy. A travel insurance policy with baggage benefits can provide reimbursement for a damaged or lost instrument.
“If you purchased a travel insurance policy with baggage benefits, your bags and possessions, including musical instruments, may be covered depending on the price point and type of instrument,” says Daniel Durazo, a spokesperson with Allianz Partners, a travel insurance provider.
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Check the coverage amount shown on your Confirmation of Coverage. This is the maximum amount that can be paid for a covered loss, theft or damage to your baggage and personal items.
For example, Allianz’s OneTrip OneTrip Premier plan includes up to $2,000 for baggage loss or damage.
How to Get More Musical Instrument Coverage
For high-end instruments, it may be worthwhile to purchase musical instrument insurance.
“Most musical instruments are intrinsically subject to movement over both short and long distances,” says Ellis Hershman, a spokesperson with Heritage Insurance Services, an insurance agency that specializes in musical instrument insurance. “Musical instruments travel with their owners, are subjected to shipment by package carriers, placed in air cargo, inspected by Homeland Security and customs, taken on tour, moved in motor vehicles and trailers and go from one climate to another.”
Hershman says the result is that the most frequent causes of loss to musical instruments are breakage requiring repair and devaluation due to problems like theft, water damage, fire and other unforeseen incidents. “These incidents happen infrequently but are very severe in loss and are expensive,” he observes.
Hershman says musical instrument insurance is easily available from several insurance agencies like his that specialize in this coverage. “The good news is that cost is low compared to other types of insurance,” he says. He notes that there can be differences in coverage, so compare plans and prices.
How to Travel with a Musical Instrument
Experts offer these tips for avoiding damage to your instrument while traveling.
- When traveling by plane, take your instrument into the cabin, recommends Felix Sodemann, a spokesperson with Touring Artists, an information and consultancy service for international musicians. For bigger instruments, like cellos, you can usually book an extra instrument seat, he says.
- Don’t leave your instrument unattended in a car, on a train, in the airport or during a flight.
- If you need to check your instrument for a flight, make sure you have a quality case and your phone number and email are inside the case for recovery purposes, says Hershman.
- Take photos of your instrument before and after travel, says Durazo. That way you’ll have documentation of any damage during the trip for an insurance claim.
- If damage or loss does happen during transit, be sure to file a report with the airline or travel supplier within 24 hours.
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Erica Lamberg is a personal finance and travel writer based in suburban Philadelphia. She is a regular contributor to USA Today and her writing credits include NBC News, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, Oprah Magazine and Creditcards.com.