Is your institution insured against damage to your building and collections? Do you know how to file a claim? Do you know what procedures you must follow in the event of a disaster (e.g., are you allowed to begin salvaging damaged collections before the insurance adjuster arrives)? Insurance is a complex subject and can be very confusing. It is very important that you consult with your insurance agent to determine precisely what coverage is right for your institution.
An institution can be self-insured, purchase commercial insurance, or have a combination of the two. Self-insurance refers to the practice of putting funds aside within the institution to be used in case of loss. Some larger institutions or those that are part of a larger entity (e.g. a university or a government agency) choose self-insurance or a combination of commercial and self-insurance. Commercial insurance is more common for smaller institutions that do not have the resources to allow for self-insurance.
Different collection materials may need different types of insurance coverage. In libraries, special collections are often covered by a Valuable Papers and Records policy that is separate from the policy for general collections. Do not neglect insurance for your building, machinery, and equipment (e.g., furnishings, photocopiers, microfilm readers). Sometimes a separate computer rider is needed to cover replacement of computer hardware and software. You should also consider business interruption and extra expense insurance; these cover loss of income and extra expenses that may be incurred while providing services during the period of repair and restoration after a disaster.
Regardless of the materials covered or the method of insurance coverage, your institution must: