The most important thing about insurance is that you never know when you are going to need it. Many people think that their homeowners, renters, or vehicle insurance will cover damage to bagpipes. In many cases this is not true. Depending on the insurance you have, you could face a large deductible. The solution for bagpipers, and drummers, is musical instrument insurance.
Since Dojo University is based in the U.S. this article will be based on insurance available in the U.S. Many of these concepts apply to insurance in other countries. If you are outside of the U.S. use this information as a starting point.
Bagpipes can be expensive. We all know that. Bagpipes can also last a long time. It is easy to find people actively playing sets that are 75 to 100 years old. Due to their longevity, bagpipes should be considered an investment. As an investment they should be protected.
Unfortunately, because bagpipes are made of wood, for the most part, they are subject to damage and wear. People walk around with them while playing, they travel with them in cars, trains, and planes and in all kinds of weather. With the drones sticking up above your head they can hit doorways and walls. If you play in crowded clubs there are many opportunities for damage.
This is why insurance is important. The traditional way to insure bagpipes is with homeowners or renters insurance. There are a few problems with this approach. There is usually a deductible, commonly $500 to $1000 or more. Many of these insurance companies will not cover musical instruments that are used in a "professional manner." If you are playing in a band, or making a bit of side money at a club, they might not cover them.
With the amount of traveling bagpipers do, it can seem like the bagpipes are always in the car. If you get into an accident or your bagpipes are stolen from the car there is a high probability that your car insurance company will not pay for new ones. It is common to see car insurance try and pass the buck to the homeowners/renters insurance while they try and pass it to the car insurance.
The solution is Musical Instrument Insurance. This is a type insurance that specifically covers instruments and the hazards that they face. In the insurance industry this type of coverage is called Inland Marine Coverage. That seems like that would have nothing to do with instruments but it's called that for a reason.
The definition of Inland Marine Coverage is property insurance for property in transit over land. It's used in cases where the insured item does not have a specific, permanent location. This makes it ideally suited for musical instruments.
The majority of musical instrument insurance in the U.S. is All Hazard insurance. Just like it sounds, this type of insurance will cover all hazards except the ones specifically excluded. Obviously this is an advantage for musicians. It will cover all sorts of damage like fire, flood, theft, lost luggage, accidental breakage, etc...
One of the main advantages of musical instrument insurance it that not only is the instrument covered, but all the accessories are covered as well. This means that not only is the bagpipe covered but the case, chanter, the reeds, the practice chanter, tuner, music books, and other accessories.
When getting musical instrument insurance there is one big question. How does the insurance company determine what they pay for a loss? There are three ways that they do this, Agreed Value, Actual Cash Value, or Replacement Value.
Agreed Value means that you and the insurance company agree when the policy is written as to what the value of the instrument and accessories. This has the advantages that everyone knows before hand what the payout will be. Usually the payment on agreed value with be much quicker than any of the other types.
Actual Cash Value means that you will declare the market value of the instrument and accessories before the policy is written. The insurance company will then confirm the values and issue the policy. When a loss occurs you could be asked to justify the market value, or the insurance company with declare a market value. The advantage of this is most insurance companies will not ask for an appraisal. The disadvantage is that after a loss it can take much longer to receive payments. You also the payment might not be large enough to cover a new set of bagpipes.
Replacement Value is the cost to replace the instrument when it exceeds the actual cash value of the instrument or accessories. The advantage of this is when the fair market value is less than the replacement value. If you are insuring vintage or antique instrument this might be the way to go.
In the U.S. there are basically five companies that cover musical instruments. These are, in no particular order; Anderson Musical Instruments Insurance Solutions, Heritage Insurance Services, Huntington T. Block Insurance Agency (HTB), Clarion Associates Musical Instrument Insurance, and MusicPro Insurance.
Each of these companies will cover bagpipes for the most part. The cost of coverage varies based on the amount covered and the amount of the deductible. It generally ranges from $100 to $250 per $1000 covered.
Deciding to get insurance is a person choice, and depends on many factors. Fortunately there are several options to choose from. Instrument insurance can give you a peace of mind at band events, competitions, and when traveling.