Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shipping Antiques and Personal Property? Consider This!

You've picked out that perfect Louis desk while shopping in Paris, those stunning Gio Ponti armchairs while in Italy or an architectural salvage fireplace mantel in Belgium.  Perhaps you are relocating your entire household overseas for a new job or change in post.  Shipping these items door to door can be a daunting task.  Shipping companies, relocation services, your employer, or the antiques dealer you purchased from will not typically spend much time discussing open marine insurance coverage with you.  Why?  Because the topic can be complicated and coverage differs across companies and policies.  Besides, no one wants to talk about the potential for damage or loss of your treasured objects or purchases.  This is precisely where a qualified and independent antiques and personal property appraiser can provide support.  A written appraisal by a personal property appraiser documents the description, condition and value of your goods before they leave your possession and travel to their destination.  Which means that dealing with a damage-loss insurance claim will have the necessary supporting evidence.

I'll share my story of our international relocation.  First, the good news:  I contracted with a qualified appraiser to conduct both a home inventory and appraisal.  The appraiser photographed, documented and valued our household goods prior to packing and shipping.  In addition, she recommended which antiques I would want to have professionally crated before shipping and identified those items requiring a more detailed level of appraisal to support their documented value.  The report was completed and attached to the shipper's Bill of Lading, as well as provided to my husband's relocation specialist.

Now, the bad news:  little did we know the entire shipment would be removed from the container and all of the individual boxes and pieces of furniture would be loaded on trucks to fit down our narrow, one way street.  Thrown on trucks, I should say.  The end result, broken Rosenthal porcelain, several damaged furniture pieces and my prized mid-mod 1961 Kroehler sofa broken and unusable.

We worked through the claims process with the shipping insurance company and received a settlement equal to the amounts listed in the appraisal.  In addition, the shipping company worked with us on the repair of those items that could be fixed.  They even went as far as contacting a company in New York that sold vintage wheels to match the originals on my sofa.

Shipping antiques and household goods is a major undertaking.  There are many moving and shipping services that do an excellent job to ensure your items arrive as they left.  Shipping insurance provides basic coverage for your goods.  Ultimately, the goal is that your items arrive in the condition they left.  Any other situation puts you at financial risk for damages or loss in transit, despite having insurance.  A written appraisal by a qualified personal property appraiser can mitigate financial risk.