INSURERS AXA Art and NFU Mutual have published a new booklet giving advice to owners of fine art about how to minimise damage to their property and possessions.

Titled Fine Art Salvage Guidelines, it outlines the measures that people can take to minimise the harm caused by fires, flooding, storms or even terrorist attacks. The guide has been written for joint clients of the two insurers and is primarily aimed at the large country house sector.

Emergency plan

It advises owners to have an action plan prepared and rehearsed in advance of a disaster occurring. The booklet suggests that this “emergency salvage plan” should be put in writing, updated annually and kept in an “emergency wallet” alongside important information such as telephone numbers, basic floor plans of the building, and an inventory of the property.

At the Suffolk mansion, Heveningham, for instance, the antique contents of the house, including a valuable chandelier, were rescued during a fire thanks to well-prepared operations plan.

The booklet also recommends that “priority salvage cards” should be drawn up for each of the main rooms in which art is kept. This is designed to show the most important items to rescue and helps emergency services identify specific items quickly. Photos of priority objects should be included on the cards along with any special removal instructions, the booklet advises.

AXA say liaising with the local fire brigade is essential for the plan to be effective.