In addition to protecting collections from burglary, it’s important for your clients with collections to be vigilant against the threat of fire and water loss. From fire alone, there are over $11 billion in claims each year (Fema.gov).
Even with the proper collectibles insurance, the following tips are important safeguards against loss from fire and water:
- In the winter months, avoid mildew due to relative humidity by making sure that the room’s temperature does not go below 59 degrees.
- Have gutters cleaned at least annually, otherwise leaves and debris can block the flow of water. This could lead to a water overflow that could come into the property.
- Check water bills for unusual usages. An increase could indicate a leak.
- If the collector is away from the home or property for an extended period, it’s important to make sure that someone reliable is scheduled to inspect the property, helping to identify a problem early on.
- Install “rise in heat” detectors in any fire-critical rooms or areas of the property. If the home or building is larger, consider using a cross-linked system to increase the likelihood of hearing the alarm.
- Have small fire extinguishers available in all areas that are critical.
- Faulty electrical wiring can cause fires. An electrician should test all electrical wiring that is more than 20 years old.
- Check all electronic devices to make sure that there are no loose wires or electrical problems.
- Guards should be placed around fireplaces, and chimney sweep should be retained once a year to make sure the chimney is clear before use in winter months.
Consider Developing an Emergency and Salvage Card
If a collection is particularly valuable, either culturally, historically or economically, it can make sense to create a formal emergency plan. To help make an evacuation as successful as possible, a “salvage card” should be made. These cards are made so that instructions can be clearly given at the time of an emergency. They should be easy to read in poorly lit and even smoky conditions. The card should be kept in a secure place near the principal entry point. The card should include the home or building plans, photos of objects, and other essential instructions.