How to protect a prized wine collection

Some policies don't specifically address exposures wine collectors face

How to protect a prized wine collection

Insurance News

By Bethan Moorcraft

“Everything happens for a Riesling,” sighs a dejected wine collector when they find their prize bottles spoiled in a flooded basement.

It doesn’t have to be that way … if collectors have the right insurance policy.  

Finding the right protection for a wine collection can be complicated due to the multitude of options available in the marketplace. Most regular homeowners’ policies provide some coverage for wine spoilage due to something like a power outage, but they don’t specifically address many of the exposures wine collectors face.

“Wine collectors need to find an insurance consultant that’s knowledgeable about protecting wine against loss and can also provide coverage information and recommendations,” said Greg Burns, associate vice president of regional operations for Nationwide Private Client.

Looking after a wine collection is no easy feat. Storage temperature is one of the key things for collectors to consider. According to Burns, wine is best stored between 45° – 65° F with 55° to 57° F being the optimal range to age red wine. Proper humidity is also important with the ideal range being 50-80%. Without the proper humidity corks can crack or become overly saturated resulting in the spoiling of wine.

“Wine also likes to be kept in the dark as too much exposure to light can create an unpleasant wine,” Burns explained. “Since wine is oftentimes stored in the basement [to meet these storage demands], it can also be vulnerable to water damage like backup of sewer and drain or pipe breaks. The base amount on most homeowners’ policies for sewer backup or high deductible can provide only minimal coverage for extensive damage to your wine. Flood is also not covered in most homeowners’ policies.”

Nationwide Private Client offers a personal collections policy, through which wine collections can be written on a blanket basis or by individually scheduling each bottle. Those with a small collection who elect not to purchase collections insurance, can get up to $5,000 in coverage through a Nationwide Private Client Homeowners’ policy for wine that is damaged due to power interruption or mechanical breakdown.

The insurer also offers risk management best practices for wine collectors, such as:

Climate control:

  • Exposure to extreme temperature changes, including heat can damage your wine collection. The ideal temperature range for your wine is between 45 degrees Fahrenheit and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (with 55 degrees Fahrenheit often being considered as an optimal temperature).
  • Arid environments can dry out the cork in your wine bottle. Traditionally, 50 to 80% humidity is adequate for wine storage.
  • Use a monitoring alarm system within your storage place to alert you to temperature changes that may be needed to protect your wine.
  • Install a backup generator to protect your collection during power outages and to help avoid extreme temperature changes that could otherwise damage your collection.

Store bottles on their side

  • Bottles stored long-term should be placed horizontally to prevent the cork from drying out.
  • Storing wine horizontally is also an effective space saver.

Lights off

  • The glass used for wine bottles is dark in color to protect the wine from UV rays.
  • Sunlight can damage wine by aging it prematurely
  • Light from household bulbs can fade labels in the long run.

Transport Safely

  • Wines are sensitive and do not travel well. Avoid transporting wine unless absolutely necessary.

“Technology has also enhanced wine collecting,” Burns told Insurance Business. “Wine cellar management apps, wine preference tracking systems and wine recommendation software are making it easier for wine collectors to obtain that most valuable bottle of wine, as well as effectively work with their insurance agent to efficiently maintain their insurance policy.”




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