Argo: Protecting Historic and Cultural Treasures for Future Generations

Underwriting risk in 160 countries, Argo offers far-reaching insurance solutions that can help protect and preserve culturally significant landmarks, fine art and artifacts in the U.S. and around the world.

From county courthouses to world wonders such as the Great Pyramid of Giza, historic sites and landmarks inspire with their captivating mix of beauty, design and connections to the past.

“These sites are representative of who the community is,” said Thom P. Rickert, vice president, head of marketing, Trident Public Risk Solutions. “It speaks to their identity: ‘We’ve been here a long time. We’ve stood for these things. This is part of our heritage.’ That concept goes beyond the United States.”

Risks to historic buildings, art and collectibles

Despite their larger-than-life presence, even iconic structures are vulnerable to vandalism and neglect, as well as other kinds of threats faced by ordinary places and things, Rickert said. Historic sites and landmarks in the U.S. face increased threats from heavy rains, large wildfires, floods and rising sea levels, with recent hurricanes and earthquakes a disturbing reminder of the destructive power of extreme weather.

If a historic building is destroyed, the original materials can’t be replaced, and the decision must be made whether to renovate, repair or use modern materials to match the original as closely as possible. It’s important to also consider the intangible value of historic and culturally significant structures, fine art and collectibles when considering the appropriate risk management for a particular asset.

“The conditions under which an item is stored, housed and protected – whether a picture, statue or building – can significantly affect the value of the asset, the cost to insure and the impact on a community,” Rickert noted.

Argo’s global footprint

While visitors contemplate historic buildings and art and their links to the past, Argo employees – fluent in 20 languages – are hard at work underwriting risk in 160 countries from their offices in 11 countries across the globe. With an international footprint stretching from the United States to London, Dubai and Singapore, Argo is well positioned to help protect and preserve important landmarks and culturally significant objects for generations.

Through ARIS Title, which underwrites title risks, Argo plays a role in making sure art and collectibles from around the world find a home in private collections, museums and other institutions. Title insurance provides peace of mind for buyers by making clear the ownership history of a piece, said Mary Buschman, chief underwriting counsel for ARIS Title.

ARIS deals with objects from different time periods from all over the world, including South America, Central America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Recently, ARIS issued a policy on a 19th century African painted wooden sculpture being purchased by a museum in the Midwestern U.S. In another instance, ARIS wrote a title policy on a 17th century marble religious relief attributed to an Italian artist and purchased by a U.S. investor. In both cases, ARIS’s underwriting team, led by Buschman, researched the ownership histories to make sure the pieces were free of title risks.

“A lot of patrons of the arts are interested in some sort of legacy, creating a collection where they donate their works to a museum,” Buschman explained. “What title insurance can provide is for that legacy to be streamlined.”

Regardless of whether a piece of art is exhibited in a museum or joins a private collection, Buschman sees a greater purpose in protecting and preserving art for future generations to appreciate.

“Why are we preserving this in the first place?” Buschman said. “It’s not necessarily for today.”

Rickert recently spoke at Texas PRIMA on “Protecting Your Community’s Cultural Heritage: Fine Arts and Historic Structure Risk.”

Learn how Trident Public Risk Solutions has public entities covered when it comes to risk management at www.argolimited.com/trident.

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The insurance policies, not this descriptive article, form the contract between the insured and the insurance company. The policies contain limits, exclusions and conditions that are not listed in this article. All coverages are subject to individual underwriting judgments and to state legal and regulatory requirements. This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Policies for this program are issued by one or more insurance companies of Argo Group International Holdings Ltd. Trident is a registered service mark of Argo Group International Holdings Ltd.

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