BIG BROKER INSURANCE GROUP / Gabriele Ciaccio
Insuring a work of art and all luxury items is an extremely selective segment of the insurance market. What makes Big Broker Insurance Group’s experience in this field unique?
Big has several specialisations. The most important and well-known in the sector is certainly art-related, but we have never limited ourselves to that alone. In fact, my father in particular has always been involved in providing cover for companies and industries that often come from the world of art and collectors. Thanks to our staff, our specific corporate division and our agreements with leading national and international companies, we are able to meet the most varied needs of small, medium and large companies.
In recent years we have also developed specific expertise in special risks, that is to say supercars, classic cars, yachts, aircraft, prestigious or historic houses, jewellery, watches. I am the contact person for these specific risks and with my staff we have developed specific and innovative products in particular with the British Lloyd’s market.
Does your passion for art run in your family?
I have always loved all forms of art, from painting to photography, from cinema to music. Since I was a child, I have grown up surrounded by works of art. My grandmother Carmen Grassi Ciaccio, with whom I spent a lot of time, was one of Italy’s leading antique art dealers from the 1960s to the 1990s. The greatest Italian art historians (Federico Zeri was one of the many regulars) and the most important collectors would visit her house quite often. The arrival of a Venetian view by Canaletto and Guardi or a still life by Evaristo Baschenis was a normal event.
Uncle Roberto – who passed away in 2014 – was a great and important contemporary artist, with solo exhibitions at prestigious venues such as Palazzo Reale in Milan and works in museums such as MOMA in New York, Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, Gallerie d’Italia in Milan or the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Finally, my father Massimo has always loved, studied, and collected works of art, both modern and ancient. This led him, in the mid-1990s, to combine his passion with his work. Thus, he began to offer insurance cover for works of art, in formulas that the Italian insurance market was not yet able to offer.
What makes you one of the leading Italian players in this sector?
Certainly, our clients (or potential clients) have always seen us as family friends and not as “policy sellers”. This relationship of trust has always been consolidated with tailor-made management, which is attentive, fast and above all always in the client’s interest.
We have also always tried to “pamper” our clients with invitations to exhibitions and important events that we have organised ourselves, such as, for example, dinners at the Uffizi in Florence, at the Brera Museum in Milan, at the Galleria Estense in Modena, at the Poldi Pezzoli in Milan and many others. The strength of tradition of what we have managed over the years is certainly one of the best business cards.
Is there an unforgettable cover in your long experience?
There have certainly been many that I remember for the most diverse reasons. One that is particularly dear to me was the coverage of three works by Caravaggio that the Galleria Borghese in Rome lent to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles for an exhibition centred precisely on these three works. In that case, we reached a sum of several hundred million euros. During the exhibition there was a huge fire on the hill adjacent to the museum. It lasted several days, which kept us all in suspense both for the integrity of those masterpieces and for the eventual million-dollar cover that we would have had to bear. Definitely an indelible memory.
What advice would you give to a collector who wants to insure his or her works properly?
There are many different products on the insurance market, some more comprehensive, others much less so.
I would certainly recommend a broker. According to the code of ethics, they have to look after the client’s interests, and, in the insurance field, is comparable to a lawyer in the legal field or an accountant in the tax field.
It is certainly advisable to have an intermediary who works in the art sector, as experience is important both in order to propose an adequate product and to better manage any claims. It is also essential that the contractual text that you are going to sign contains exclusions that it is better to avoid and many clauses dedicated to art that are only found in certain contracts.
The best formula is the “all risks” formula, which therefore covers all risks. There should also be provision for gross negligence on the part of the insured, accidental breakage, catastrophic damage (earthquakes, floods, etc.) and theft by stealth. Works of art should be insured on an ‘estimate accepted’ by the company so as not to get into unpleasant discussions about the value in the event of damage. It is also important to keep a photographic record, a history of provenance and an appraisal of the works, especially for the most important ones.
Beyond art, what risks do you deal with?
Certainly, we couldn’t help but consider them, also thanks to the potential of the art world. In fact, we have developed specific skills, both internally and externally, thanks to some important partnerships for insurance cover dedicated to companies, such as industries or construction companies, for example. The approach to certain sectors is firstly based on a professional risk analysis carried out by highly experienced people dedicated to risk management, and then a tailor-made proposal is created with the support of leading Italian and international companies. Over the years, we have realised that many companies are dragging behind contracts that are now obsolete or insufficient for their current needs. They often do not take into account legislative and regulatory changes or the increase in real risk based on their activities.
Gabriele Ciaccio is founding partner together with his father Massimo of BIG Broker Insurance Group. As Executive Manager and Head of the CiaccioArte division, he has specialised for more than twenty years in insurance cover for works of art and special risks, underwriting risks in Italy on behalf of the oldest and most famous insurance market in the world, Lloyd’s of London.
BIG is the official intermediary of the Italian Federation of Art Dealers and the Association of Italian Antique Dealers and is the reference point for many of the most important Italian gallery owners and collectors, as well as being a partner of various museums, auction houses, foundations, fairs and sponsors of dozens of cultural exhibitions every year.