Sep 6, 2015

Operating is Risky Business Without Insurance

In my July 26, 2012, Behind the Gavel column, I related a story about the Mountaintop Antique Mall in Hillsville, Virginia. This popular mall near Interstate Route 77 is one of my favorite places to visit when I go antiquing near Hillsville. Last month, intending to visit Mountaintop, I drove right past the mall entrance. Thinking that I hadn’t been paying attention, I circled back and was momentarily confused: the mall was gone. There was nothing there but the gravel parking lot and a few outbuildings.

I drove to a neighboring antique store, and there I got the story: In the winter of 2014 the roof had collapsed under two feet of snow in high winds. To quote the Galax Gazette, the 12-foot-high ceiling “came crashing down on countless collectibles, furniture, glassware, art, pottery and showcases.” Though mall owner Charles Nelson had insurance, many dealers do not.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a general lack of concern about insurance among small antique dealers. Allison Steeves of insurance brokers Steeves, Smith and Associates in Monroe, Connecticut, is very blunt about this situation: “The problem is that antique dealers don’t look at themselves as business people,” she said. “Based on the contracts they sign for their booths, any exposure makes them liable”.

Angie Becker, president of both the Antiques and Collectibles Insurance Group and the Antiques and Collectibles National Association [http://www.acna.us/], agrees. Antique dealers are often underinsured and at risk of serious loss. Lack of liability insurance is the most prevalent issue, says Becker.

Regardless of where a dealer does business – in a storefront, antique mall, flea market, fair, antique show, auction or estate sale – accidents involving their displays leave them liable for damages.

For example: >>>Read More

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