Damaged artwork: the pivotal role played by a specialist art loss adjuster


As soon as the fire brigade had finished their work, we needed to act quickly. Aware of the great importance of a fast response, within a day Stelliant Loss Adjusting formed a multidisciplinary team of loss adjusters to put appropriate provisional measures in place. Their role was to compile a joint assessment and limit damage, especially to the works of art, with a view to their restoration and saving as much of the collection as possible, while displaying empathy for the policyholder who was in a state of distress at the prospect of losing everything. 

How Stelliant proceeded

For this kind of incident involving a variety of risks, Stelliant Loss Adjusting works in project mode, mobilising all of the technical skills needed to handle this complex claim.  On-site that very day, the Construction loss adjuster implemented provisional measures to remedy the structural damage, in order to render safe the severely damaged building. In light of the scale of the damage and the policyholder’s claims of the artwork that was present, the loss adjuster called in an art expert and a fire expert. 

Given the terrible consequences a fire has on an art collection, the fine art loss adjuster immediately turned to their network of specialist decontamination and drying service providers. They got to work within 24 hours and succeeded in limiting the damage (corrosion, mould, crinkling) caused by soot and smoke, both highly corrosive, as well as by the water used to extinguish the flames.  

The Stelliant loss adjuster then compiled an inventory of the losses with a precise valuation, categorising artwork as either completely damaged, and therefore irretrievable, or partially damaged and able to be restored. They referred to the clauses of the insurance policy to check whether it was based on the declared value or the agreed value, information vital to determining the compensation paid out and the position adopted by the insurer. If the former, it is the responsibility of the policyholder to provide proof of the value of the insured items. If the latter, a loss adjuster would have already valued the artwork, and the insurer would use the sums in the inventory to pay out compensation. 

Next, the fine art loss adjuster examined the damage to the pieces that could be restored, as well as their documentation (photos, past restoration history) to assess which damage was caused directly by this incident, and which dated from earlier. This was in order to limit the claim to the damage caused by the fire. 

Stelliant Loss Adjusting turned to its network of Museum-approved restorers specialising in different kinds of items. Accordingly, the worst affected furniture was able to have its marquetry restored. It was possible to save most of the pieces in the collections, much to the relief of the policyholder, whom the loss adjuster reassured and kept informed throughout the entire loss adjustment procedure.  

In parallel, the fire investigation loss adjuster identified the source of the fire and determined whether any claim could be made against a third party.