Consistency breeds familiarity and comfort, setting expectations for the future. We know what to expect from certain vineyards and varietals. On occasion, however, things go awry in the world of wine.

Insurance is designed to protect against random, unpredictable events. Think Hurricane Ian in 2022, the 2020 wildfires that ravaged California, or even Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which damaged 27k cases of wine at just one storage facility, let alone the rest of the East Coast. There are fires, thefts, and closer to home, a storm or power outage may cause a spike in your wine cellar’s temperature.

Inventory management and understanding insurance are key to implementing your own risk management strategy. These are some best practices, along with common questions.

Know what you have

This is the first step for any collector, a validating and valuable exercise critical to managing a future loss. Take an inventory and catalog your collection, whether with an app, an online tool, or a simple spreadsheet. Let alone fluctuations in value, the average wine collector buys 20 bottles for every 1 bottle consumed.

Update your inventory no less than annually. Options like CellarTracker, eSommelier, Invintory, and Wine Owners make this easier than ever.

Know who you know

When disaster strikes, what resources do you have available? Disasters necessitate immediate attention and there are many factors to consider, from logistics, transportation, and damage assessment to inventory and appraisals. Mitigating damages can be as simple as knowing who to call.

InsureMyWine has relationships with skilled professionals across the US, experts in all areas of managing your wine collection.

Is that covered by insurance?

All too often, the assumption is that wine is automatically covered by home insurance. And all too often, it is not. Most insurance policies are not designed to accommodate the risks (temperature, humidity, light) or loss settlement challenges a wine collection presents. Valuing wine may be difficult; replacing it may be impossible. Try explaining that to a twenty-something year old claim representative “helping” you from an insurance call center after the next Hurricane Ian, Katrina, or Sandy.

When choosing insurance, rely on InsureMyWine and our partners, companies with known competencies in wine.

Is wine covered during shipping?

That depends. While some companies cover wine in transit, many wine insurance policies only cover wine in transit when in the possession of the owner, not while being shipped by a third party.

When shipping wine, consider buying the shipper’s coverage – never assume coverage without asking a professional like InsureMyWine.

“I think my wine was damaged.”

In many cases, it is the potential for a loss which leads to an open claim. While reputable companies take every step to mitigate this risk during transit and while in storage, how does one know if a case of DRC was damaged when the condenser in a home cellar failed? How many days was the power out?

Wine is unique. Any loss should be investigated and handled on a case-by-case basis by experienced wine specialists.

There is a coverage limit per bottle?

Yes, even if you took steps to insure your wine with a reputable company like Chubb or QBE, the policy may have a limit per bottle, whether it is $50k or $1k, not just an overall policy limit.

Refer back to #1, “Know what you have” and avoid this issue with tailored insurance coverage from InsureMyWine.

Earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. 

There may be separate coverage and/or deductibles for each of these causes of loss. Furthermore, some policies provide “All Risk” coverage, the broadest terms available.

Look for “All Risk” coverage and beware exclusions for mechanical breakdown and power outages.

Compared to an unendorsed, basic home insurance policy, coverage for wine should: extend worldwide; have a “newly acquired limit” extending to new purchases automatically; cover temperature extremes and mechanical failure; include earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes as covered causes of loss; and provide “All Risk” terms, ensuring that accidents like dropping(!) and breaking a case are covered.

As your day winds down with a glass of wine, think about what you have and how prepared your collection is for a random, unpredictable event.