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Fin Moore, who had his pipes stolen (see CS Vol 19 No 1, June 2003) about 18 months ago, has still not recovered them. He recalled the incident in a telephone conversation with Jock Agnew....

He had put the box down (along with a grip), he tells me, beside his car ready to take indoors, and while he and his friends sat for a few minutes listening to a tape, the thief crept up in the night, stole the pipes, and left the grip untouched. It was a private car park, Fin points out, and as a security precaution he did not want to leave the pipes in the car over- night. They were obviously lifted by someone who knew very well what was in the box - no casual opportunist here. And the lesson? Never lose sight of your pipes even for a few seconds.

Fin also recounted that while playing a gig on Islay the dressing room turned out to be less than secure: a colleague had his camera and other items stolen. The lesson? Check the secu- rity of any place where you are performing and where you may have to leave valuable items

- like pipes, of course.

And when playing in a crowded session, special vigilance is necessary if you are among strangers. When someone picks up an instrument lying on a table and starts to play, who can tell if that person is the owner?

Jock Agnew also talked to Ray Stanard, the local police liaison officer, about personal and home security. And once we had overcome a couple of areas of misunderstanding: “Don’t think there would be much call for thieves to steal bagpipes in Essex         !” and “ Of course if

they see drums in the car.. !” we established some useful points to consider:-

It could be of benefit if the pipemaker were to give each set a unique number, mark or appearance. Preferably something that would show up in a photograph and be noticed by lay persons as well as pipers. There was a warning, though, against using an ultra violet marker - which, although invisible to the thief, could show up in sunlight and might detract from the value of the pipes.

The owner of the pipes should take a good quality photograph of his/her pipes, with some familiar object alongside (a ruler, maybe) that would give a clear idea of scale. This photo- graph, along with a description of the pipes and their identifying mark, could then be made available to the police should the pipes ever be stolen. Ray told me that such information would go onto a national data base which would be available to police forces up and down the country - though not overseas - and might allow ownership, for instance, of recovered stolen goods to be established. He warned that there might be some delay in this informa- tion being entered onto the data base depending on pressure of work and police resources at the time.


We discussed the fact that most thieves (except in special cases; see the notes on Fin Moore’s experience above), would not only be totally uninterested in owning a set of pipes, but wouldn’t know their value or how to convert them into cash - unlike boating equipment, for instance, for which special car-boot sales are available up and down the country. A com- mon thief, who is nearly always anxious to complete his villainy in a hurry, might see a box, pick it up, and run, only later discovering that the contents were of no potential value (to him). The chances are he would then destroy or dump both box and contents.

So some practical ideas and suggestions that evolved during our conversation included:

  • Take the pipes into the house (or building) if at all possible rather than leaving them in the car.
  • If you must leave your pipes in the car for any period, leave them where they cannot be seen g. in the boot, or at the very least covered with a coat or blanket.
  • Don’t leave any items visible in the car (e.g mobile phone) that might attract a break


  • If circumstances permit, leave the pipe box open, and maybe the pipes A thief in a hurry is unlikely to stop and tidy them away, shut and secure the box, be- fore grabbing the handle and making his getaway. Besides, if he sees what they are he may be totally disinterested anyway.

Footnote - on Christmas Eve, 2002, my house was burgled. There were smallpipes (unboxed) with their bellows in the living room, and a host of instruments (pipes, concerti- nas, fiddles) under the stair. The thief disturbed them but never took any - preferring, instead, the lap-top computer which, I presume, could be turned readily into cash.







Keith Amor has been an insurance broker at Lloyd’s of London for 35 years, and in that pe- riod has placed most types of insurance and reinsurance business from many countries into the Lloyd’s insurance market. He plays electric guitar, and was once a professional drum- mer in a band. (Keith has no links with any of the organisations mentioned in this article).

For most musicians, whether professional or amateur, their instrument is like a member of the family, but less argumentative, and losing it or having it damaged, destroyed or stolen can be painful, particularly if that instrument also provides their livelihood. If any of these misfortunes should befall your instrument, could you afford to replace it? The cost of a new or replacement instrument is, of course, directly proportional to its quality. In other words you pay for what you get and as most buy an instrument at the top end of their budget, any loss is not merely inconvenient, but expensive as well!

It is a fact that most musicians find the subject of insurance boring (not surprising really) and consequently, most semi-professional and amateur musicians never specifically insure their instruments (I do not and I earn my living as an insurance broker, which says much). But is this wise? Semi- professional and amateur musicians take their instruments to halls, other people’s houses and other venues to practice, and many play occasional or even fre- quent gigs. Thinking of what could happen during these activities should encourage us all to consider insurance. Many musical instruments are delicate and easily damaged, particularly when being transported. They can easily be dropped and damaged or stolen when you are otherwise distracted. Taking them on aircraft is not always easy - many airlines insist they are placed in the cargo hold unless small; indeed, travelling on any form of public transport with a musical instrument can be an ordeal (unless you play a harmonica!) Taking these fac- tors into consideration makes buying insurance appear a sensible option - I am even begin- ning to convince myself!

The problem is that there are many schemes on the market and not all of them understand- able to those not versed in insurance and even for some of us who are. I shall, therefore, at- tempt to simplify matters for the non-insurance-minded reader. Although the writer’s main area of knowledge is the U.K. insurance market, I shall also attempt to cover some other ter- ritories in which many readers live.

The first thing to ascertain is whether your home contents insurance insurer covers your in- strument in case of loss or damage. Some insurers, such as Norwich Union Direct for exam- ple (0870 143108 or, part of the U.K’s largest insurance group give specific mention to musical instrument cover in their policy. Norwich Union Direct cover musical instruments up to £1,500 for loss or accidental damage under the Contents section of their policy and your instrument will also be covered away from home for these perils, as well as whilst in your vehicle, provided it is locked away from sight.


However, this cover only applies if you are not a professional or semi-professional musician, so if you fall into either of these categories, you will need to consider specialist musical instrument cover. You will probably find that your own insurer takes a similar stance to that of Norwich Union Direct, but you will need to make sure. Study your policy documentation and if you have any doubts, contact your insurer or broker. Some insurers will want the instrument listed on the policy schedule if its value is over a certain amount.

Do remember that in the event of loss you may need to prove your instrument’s value, so do keep the receipt, if you have one, as this will make the claim process easier and faster.

If you are a “bedroom musician” who is unlucky enough to own an instrument worth more than your household insurer will insure (perhaps Stradivarian equivalent bagpipes?), or if you are a professional or semi-professional musician, then you should seriously consider specialist musical instrument insurance to ensure that you are adequately covered in case of loss or damage.

Unfortunately for the non-insurance minded musician living in the U.K., there are a pleth- ora of schemes available. You can insure for all the eventualities I have already mentioned, plus many you would probably never think of! The premiums charged will vary dependent on whether you use the instrument solely at home at one extreme or travelling the world with it at the other. In other words, the premium is low for an amateur “bedroom musician” and increases for semi-professionals and full time players. Some policies will pay out re- placement value of the instrument if it is stolen or damaged within a certain time from it having been bought. Some will pay for hiring a replacement instrument, which is very use- ful if you are a semi-professional or professional musician. There are many variations of cover, and some insurers offer lots of “bells and whistles". For example, the policy may in- clude personal accident cover if you are injured whilst playing the insured instrument; pub- lic liability insurance, which in this litigious society may be very necessary if you play in public and drop your heavy bagpipes on the member of the audience and cause injury! You can also find musical instrument cover which includes legal expenses insurance, which could be of help if you have a dispute with suppliers of goods and services relating to you being a musician, such as non-payment of fees or breach of contract by an agent, for exam- ple.

Having read this far, the question you will be asking is “how much will insurance cost”. For the reasons already mentioned, this, unfortunately, is not easy to answer - there are too many variables,

Insurance is very much price driven - the more you want to include, the more it costs. For this reason you must first decide exactly which perils you want to insure against. All Risks cover is the most comprehensive as it should cover against most eventualities, but even what so-called All Risks Insurance covers will differ between insurance carriers. At the other end of the scale, some policies may only cover against theft. With All Risks, there will certainly be some exclusions (war, terrorism and radioactive contamination are three gen- eral examples, although it must be said that these exclusions should not cause you any


sleepless nights!), but in any case, do ask to see the policy before purchasing cover if you can, as coverage may not be as wide as you expect. Some insurers offer apparently free add- ons, but do remember that these are not without cost - insurance never is, no matter what the insurer says in its advertising, the price is merely hidden. One way of keeping the premium down is to decide whether you really need these add-ons. If you can do without them, get a quote from an insurer who charges for them as extras - that way you can compare like with like and then decide whether you think they are value for money.

In most cases an excess is required - this is the amount of loss you have to bear before the insurer pays. This excess can be anything from 7.50% of the instrument’s value and if you voluntarily accept a higher excess than the minimum offered by the insurer, the premium should be less - very much like motor insurance. Some insurers even offer monthly pre- mium payment terms, so that you can spread the cost.

If you are a member of the Musician’s Union, it is well worth getting in contact with them as they are able to arrange a tailor made insurance policy at reasonable cost. Their website is excellent ( The Musicians Union website also contains a “stolen instruments” section where members can place details of their instrument. Other sites worth visiting for on line quotations are Musical Instrument Insurance UK ( or by telephone on 08707 450359), Allianz Cornhill (, SISA UK ( and Musicguard ( or telephone 02476 851000). All of these are reputable companies, so you should have no problems in using them, but whichever broker or insurance company you use, remember to make sure they are a member of the General Insurance Standards Council - the insurance trade’s regulatory body - as this gives you protection in the event of fraud or disputes. These companies all offer insurance at reasonable cost. For my own in- strument, (an electric bass guitar, worth around £1,000), I received a quote from Musical Instrument Insurance UK for a premium of about £45 for 12 months cover including unat- tended vehicle cover and unlimited worldwide cover. At that price perhaps I should seri- ously consider getting insured!

Of course, not all bagpipe players live in the U.K. and those of you living elsewhere will undoubtedly need to consider insurance for your instruments. The cover given by your household insurer in your own country may well be different than that available in the United Kingdom. However, there will undoubtedly be similarities and the writer can only suggest that you study your policy documents and ask the relevant questions. There are, however, schemes for musical instrument insurance in just about every country. For exam- ple, the Musicians Union of Australia has some very good schemes for members and it is worth visiting their website ( for information. The MUA which has branches in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland offers members a scheme underwritten by QBE Insurance through Marsh Insurance, part of the world’s largest insurance brokerage, offering worldwide coverage 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, for accidental damage and/or loss, fire, malicious damage, theft and whilst in


transit. Even if you are not a member of the MUA you can still insure through Marsh Insurance with QBE Insurance, although you will not receive the MUA discount. Marsh Insurance can be contacted on 1800 882 317 (toll free). Interestingly, the writer has been unable to find specific musical instrument insurance on the list of insurances available from members of Australia’s National Insurance Brokers Association, so at the time of writing the only scheme I am aware of is that through Marsh Insurance.

The situation in New Zealand is very similar to that in Australia in that the New Zealand Musicians Union has an All Risks Insurance scheme for members only. Unfortunately, not being a member, I am unable to access details of their scheme from their website ( or telephone 09 375 2680), but I understand it is similar to that offered by Marsh Insurance in Australia. It may be worthwhile contacting a local insurance broker, but if you are unsure which one is suitable or reputable, the Corporation of Insur- ance Brokers New Zealand will be able to advise you ( or telephone 09 309 4343).

If you live in the United States of America, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to in- suring your instrument as there are many schemes available. Due to space restrictions I shall only mention the two best known. The largest company dedicated to the needs of musicians is Clarion Associates Inc (, who can cover your instrument for just about every eventuality, so you should find suitable cover, either online or by telephone - 1- 800 Vivaldi.

Clarion have been in business for around 50 years and their policies are underwritten by the Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company. The American Federation of Musicians ( offers a bewildering choice of insurances for the musician, as well as just about every other type of insurance you can think of, through Marsh Affinity Group Ser- vices, who are part of the world’s largest insurance broking group. Online quotes for cover are available through the AFM website, but you must be a member.

If after reading this you are asking yourself “Is Insurance Necessary?” Just bear in mind that insurance is totally unnecessary until you need it!