Art: an increasingly valuable asset

Although South African art accounts for only a fraction of the estimated US$75-billion global top-end art market, prices of local fine art seem to be rising at a much faster rate than artwork elsewhere in the world. This is according to the AfrAsia Bank South Africa Wealth Report 2019, which reveals that South African fine art prices have risen by 33% over the past decade, compared to an 18% increase globally. 

Christelle Colman, the managing director of Elite Risk Acceptances, recommends that all South African art collectors ascertain the current market value of their artworks and ensure they are sufficiently covered with the necessary policy extensions. 

“Even if an artwork is irreplaceable, failing to insure it properly could result in substantial financial loss should something happen to it. Insuring these pieces for their correct value – taking into account both the current valuation of the artwork and its potential appreciation – is also becoming increasingly important in today’s inflationary market.” 

Christelle advises local art collectors to obtain cover from an insurer with a special extension under the household contents section specifically for the insurance of fine art and collectables. “In addition to having access to a panel of professional valuators who provide a full assessment of replacement values, specialist insurers allow for future appreciation of the art.”

These are the top five reasons why art collectors should ensure their art is properly covered.

Appreciating value 

While household contents would usually appreciate by just above the inflation rate – currently between 7% and 10% – fine art can appreciate at a much higher rate. 

Death of an artist 

The death of the artist can result in the replacement value of a piece increasing by as much as 150% in just one year. Insurance cover should be adjusted for that appreciation.

Commissioned pieces 

In the case where an artwork has been commissioned but is stolen or damaged before it is completed, proper insurance will allow for the deposit paid for the commissioned piece to be recovered.

Exchange rate 

As the value of local artwork is subject to the rand exchange rate, cover is needed to safeguard against any sudden currency depreciation. This is particularly relevant given the rand’s volatility in recent years and the economic uncertainty that continues to plague South Africa.


Whether the piece is newly purchased and being delivered to the individual’s property or is being transported to and from an exhibition, it is vital that collectors specify the artwork in their insurance policy in order to submit a valid claim in the event of damage.

“A properly documented inventory of artworks, along with their valuation certificates, are critical when filing a claim. The more information, the better: be thorough with details and include photographs for reference,” explains Christelle. 


Despite the increasingly high valuations of local art, she says that premiums for insuring art are relatively reasonable. “Specialist insurers want to cater specifically to high-net-worth clients, so rates are generally very competitive for insuring luxury assets like fine art, especially if the policy is included as part of a consolidated insurance package. 

“That being said, it’s always important to shop around and ask the right questions to ensure you get the most comprehensive policy on the market,” concludes Christelle.

Elite Risk Acceptances is a specialist underwriter providing bespoke short-term
in­surance and personal risk solutions to high-net-worth individuals and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Old Mutual Insure. For more information, visit www.eliterisk.co.za or email christelle.colman@eliterisk.co.za.  V