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The policy extension - the first of its type say the insurers - comes at a time when more fine art buyers choose to bid remotely rather than in the saleroom. 

John Wakefield of AW & Co told ATG: "It had become quite clear to us that, with the increasing use of internet or telephone bidding, this aspect of the auctioneers' trade is not properly covered by the usual policy forms offered by the insurance market.

"So far, on a straw poll we have conducted, auctioneers have concluded that were the internet or telephone or electricity to fail during an auction, then the sale would have to be abandoned and rescheduled.

"The reasoning is that to continue in such circumstances could be unfair to vendors and pose a legal risk."

In the event of technical failure, policyholders would be covered against any extra costs they might incur when rescheduling a sale. Underwriting of the policy extension is conducted through AW & Co's subsidiary, Connoisseur Underwriting.