The 2015 hurricane season is upon us. If you own a home along the East Coast, you are likely familiar with evacuation routes and have plans for family safety, but what about your treasured objects and works of art? Up-front planning can make all the difference in reducing the risk and severity of damage. Consider taking the following steps:

1. Document what you have

Trying to create an inventory from scratch after a disaster is almost impossible. To avoid this scenario, maintain an up-to-date inventory of your collection, including descriptions, locations and images. The format can vary from a narrated video or spreadsheet stored off-site, to a sophisticated collections-management database.


2. Stay current with values

No set rule exists for when to update an appraisal, since different segments of the art market appreciate at varying rates, but a good rule of thumb is every three or four years. Depending on the genre, even a three-year interval can be inadequate in an active market.

3. Identify an art emergency response team

Include anyone who might be called upon to assist with protection and/or evacuation, such as art handlers, conservators and specialized storage companies. Solidify these relationships early; resources will be in great demand as a storm nears.

4. Obtain input from a professional conservator

Ask a fine art conservator to perform a walk-through of your home and advise on how to best handle, pack, ship and store objects before, during and after a hurricane.

5. Decide if your collection will remain in place or be evacuated

On the coast, an inland fine art-storage warehouse built to withstand severe storms may be safer, but art is more prone to damage whenever it is moved.

6. Secure your collection inside the home

Move art away from windows and doors, preferably to a storage area that is windowless and above ground level. Elevate pieces at least 6 inches to protect them from leaks and flooding. Consider storing valuable or delicate items in custom crates or strong packing boxes that are prepared in advance.

7. Secure outdoor objects

Ideally, move all outdoor art and furniture inside. Items that must remain outside will require a custom solution to protect them against damage from salt spray and flying debris, or from becoming dangerous missiles themselves.

8. Prepare your residence

Mark your property clearly so that first responders can easily find your location. If your property is gated, make sure the police and fire departments can access it. Remove branches, fronds and debris from gutters and roofs, where they could become projectiles during a storm.


9. Plan your post-storm response

Determine which objects should be treated first in case of damage. Prioritization might be based on market and sentimental value, fragility or type of damage. Work with your response team to identify which objects can be handled by you and which ones require professional assistance.

10. Confirm that your insurance coverage is adequate

Regularly review your insurance coverage with your broker or advisor. Unfortunately, collections underinsurance is often discovered only at the time of a loss. Remember, it will likely be too late to purchase additional insurance cover-age once a hurricane is bearing down.

11. Write down your emergency plan

The emergency plan for your collection—containing your priority list, insurance documents and contact information for your response team—should dovetail with the disaster plan you have for your family, staff, pets and home. Circulate copies to everyone involved, and review and practice specified procedures regularly to ensure they remain current.

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a world-leading property-casualty and general insurance organization servicing more than 70 million clients around the world. Through its Private Client Group, a division of the AIG member companies, successful individuals can access innovative protection for homes, excess liability, automobiles, private collections, yachts and more. AIG Private Client Group also offers supplemental services designed to minimize property damages, safeguard fine art and other collectibles and bolster family safety.

This article was originally published in the August/September 2015 issue of Worth.