Common causes of damages


Whether in the form of floods, burst pipes or overflowing gutters, water is one of the most frequent causes of damages and loss.

  • Clear all gutters annually (or more regularly if your property is close to trees).
  • Regularly check and maintain plumbing and heating systems.
  • Turn water off and drain tanks if the property is unoccupied during winter periods.
  • Inspect water tanks regularly for corrosion and aging. A leak located in the roof can cause catastrophic damage to art and furnishings on every floor.
  • During heavy rain, overloaded sewage mains and water systems can back up, resulting in the flow of waste materials into your home.
  • You can prevent this by fitting non-return valves to your drains.
  • Do not dispose of cooking oil down your sink. This can clog drains and result in water backing up into your home.


Fire and smoke can have devastating effects on people, buildings, contents and collections.

  • Keep important documents and photographs in a fire-safe box.
  • Never leave candles or open fires unattended. Check fireplaces before each winter season, to ensure that chimneys are clear.
  • Equip kitchens (especially those with gas range cookers) with fire extinguishers and blankets for smothering fires.
  • Consider fitting fire doors to isolate higher-risk areas.
  • Because electrical installations deteriorate, equipment and circuitry should be inspected periodically for signs of overload, risk of shock or fire, and inadequate earthing or bonding.
  • In the event of any fire, always put your own safety first and evacuate the property to avoid danger. Close but do not lock doors as you leave. Smoke can significantly damage your collection.


If you suspect a break-in, never act on your own. Alert the police at once.

  • Put your own safety first and evacuate the property if possible to avoid any danger.
  • Burglars are less likely to target your property if it appears to be occupied, even if only by pets such as dogs.
  • If a property is left empty, use timers to switch lights on and off.
  • Fit all accessible windows with key-operated window locks. Consider fitting internal bars and grilles to basement windows.
  • Keep good records, including photographs, of your artworks. Should any be lost or stolen, these records will be essential for their recovery.

Accidental damage

Whilst most accidental damage cannot be foreseen, simple housekeeping can often help mitigate loss.

  • Advise cleaners or household staff if any artworks are fragile, require specialist cleaning or shouldn’t be touched. (Spraying glass cleaner onto an unglazed picture can be disastrous, as can dusting photographic prints.)
  • Think carefully about where you place fragile artworks. Try to avoid placing ceramics near stairwells or where they might be knocked over.
  • Don’t over-water plants located on furniture.
  • If employing workmen, move any fragile or vulnerable artworks away from the area of work and access routes. A dropped drill can easily pierce or tear a painting.

This announcement is advisory in nature and is provided for informational purposes only. It is offered as a resource to be used by insurance advisors and insureds in maintaining an appropriate loss prevention program. No liability of any kind is assumed by AXA ART by reason of the information contained in this announcement.

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