What Is Inherent Vice?

You have probably heard about the inherent vice and its importance for fine art shipping companies and insurers. So what does this term mean? In general, it is a quality of an object or a material to self-destruct or to be very difficult to maintain. In other words, “inherent vice” refers to items, in our case to fine art objects, which, due to the nature of their composition, are subject to deterioration in handling and over time or even degradation. In this way, most fine art insurance companies specifically exclude coverage for the loss because of inherent vice. This is exactly the reason why it is very important for everyone to understand what particular types of fabrications and materials can fall into such a category. What’s more, this term also applies to different hidden defects that may not be visible at first sight but may be the cause of loss or damage. Thereby, even if you have coverage, you should know all the nuances in order not to have problems afterwards. Here are just several examples that refer to inherent vice:

– two or more materials used in combination may react to each other (for instance, a combination of metal and leather may cause corrosion on the metal over time);

– material has an acidic content (for instance, if the paper turns acidic because of environmental conditions or is highly acidic by itself, it may rapidly deteriorate and become brittle);

– two or more materials used in combination are mixed in improper ratios or quantities (for instance, improperly combined binding media and mixtures of pigment may cause color changes, peels, or flakes).

Some more specific examples of inherent vice:

– sharp folds in fabrics or textiles that may be deteriorated at the folded edges;

– too heavy fine art objects with the insufficient support when a heavy top may crush the level below;

– works with liquid and other unstable elements that may leak or expand during the art transportation process;

– wet paintings where the paint may pool or run;

– large sculptures made of metal with weak soldering at joins;

– antique works made of old wood that may crack, extend, or widen;

– limestone and marble slabs or similar fine art objects that may shatter along internal fault lines;

– sand paintings where the sand may dislodge from the edges or face;

– works with poorly glued on elements that may be lost during art handling or transportation process.

The exclusion also applies to different kinds of damage arising because of insufficient or poor packing and crating in the case when already packed objects are released by the customer for shipping. In this way, please provide the art shipping company with full information about the object to be shipped including its unstable elements and allow them to inspect it fully. If the professionals accept your item, pack it, and select the appropriate mode of transport, then the exclusion may not apply at all.