Hurricane season is almost upon us and, as Floridians especially, we must start thinking about how to protect ourselves and our homes should a storm hit. The obvious preparations are made every year: stocking up on water and canned goods, checking and replacing shutters, etc. However, there is one aspect of our lives that must take priority during these months before the season really begins, and that is the insuring and documenting of valuable personal property.
Collectors of art and antiques should take care to keep an updated appraisal document of important pieces in their homes at all times. Most insurance companies suggest a new appraisal be done at least every three to five years. You want to have updated information regarding your property should you need to file an insurance claim due to damage. Hurricane season brings about flooding and power outages that can have devastating effects on fine art and antiques.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent damage to your valuables should a hurricane strike:
Before the hurricane:
If you have not done so already, insure all artworks.
Keep an updated list of your property: be sure to make detailed notes on condition and any existing damage. If something is damaged due to the hurricane, you will have a record of a previous condition. An appraiser can help you professionally document your collection, with measurements, photos and an inventory list.
Be sure all artwork is secure: Wet plaster can buckle and cause your hanging paintings or decorations to fall during or after a big storm. If artwork is hanging on plaster walls, either remove it prior to the storm and place elevated on the ground or make sure they are spaced from the walls. Spacing artwork is simple. Most hardware stores sell spacers, or a piece of wood can be taped or screwed into the back of the frame so separate it from the wall. This will prevent any moisture from penetrating the back of the artwork. If possible, wrap or drape artwork with plastic to prevent water damage. Be sure that the artwork won’t stick to the plastic before doing so, as this will cause damage to the piece.
Bring outdoor sculptures inside or secure against harsh weather: Sculptures can be wrapped in burlap or blankets and tied with rope to protect from sand or objects.
In case of damage:
Early treatment is the best way to help reduce damage. Contact a professional conservator for assistance as soon as possible. Contact your insurance company for a list of recommended conservators in your area.
If works are wet, gently blot off excess moisture with towels. Separate the work from any frames, mats or backings that may be wet and move to an air conditioned area as soon as possible.
Keep the works in a lighted area where the air is kept flowing through the use of fans. This will reduce the development of mildew and mold.
Remove any protective wrappings from outdoor sculptures and rinse with clean water. Dust items left indoors to remove any salt deposit that may have accumulated during the storm.
Following these instructions should make the hurricane season stress-free. If any damage should occur, your preparation will make the claim process as easy as possible.
If you have any specific questions regarding your art care, feel free to call Tara Finley, ISA AM, President of Anubis Appraisal & Estate Services Inc.