The 220-year-old Louvre museum has reopened its doors following an emergency response to widespread flooding throughout Paris. The museum shuttered late last week to implement its emergency flood plan, crating and moving 35,000priceless works of art – including the Mona Lisa and Venus di Milo – to higher ground.
Such emergency evacuation plans are vital for museums to have when obtaining insurance coverage says Steven Pincus, senior managing director at DeWitt Stern. The New York-based insurance brokerage specializes in fine art coverage, and dealt with gallery coverage aftermath following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“Typically, in order to obtain coverage, underwriters want to see certain things in place,” he says. “And what we learned from Sandy -and it’s a common question – is, what’s the emergency evacuation plan for the museum, for the gallery? A lot of institutions and certainly a lot of galleries have developed and implemented emergency evacuation plans.”
“What do you have, where do you have it, and what’s the value?” he adds. “If you had to, in a very short period of time, say eight – 24 hours, whatever notice you may have, to go in an either remove or move to upper floors certain works of art, which would they be, and to prioritize that.”
He adds that for many museums, the issues that do arise following weather-related closures are often due to overlooked business interruption coverages, rather than their fine art policies, which are a form of inland marine coverage.
“Galleries in New York that got flooded by Hurricane Sandy for the most part had coverage and flood insurance. It was their other policies they maintained for their business that got fouled up,” he says.
“That was one of the big issues with business interruption coverage, because other than fine art, their property policy didn’t have flood and therefore it wasn’t a triggered loss under the policy. That was a big mistake a lot of programs had, and caused trouble.”
The flooding throughout Paris has since subsided, though the Siene River remains three ft. higher than usual. Over 20,000 people were evacuated from their homes as a state of emergency was declared in the city and 782 surrounding villages and towns.
Damage is estimated to cost nearly 2 billion euros, according to French insurer Maif.
French floods feared to cost 2 billion euros