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Don't be a Victim:
Damage and Theft Prevention Tips for Musicians

By Brett McCarron

(Continued from page 1)

  1. Don't store your prized instrument(s) at the rehearsal studio. Instead, store easily replaceable gear there. There's a trade-off between saving time by keeping instruments at the studio and having it out of your control when you're not there. If you carry guitars back and forth, for example, you can subject the guitar to temperature extremes; bumping and bruising of the case as you haul it in and out of cars, taxis, buses; and it means that you can carry fewer other items with you. This can be offset by keeping a less expensive guitar at the studio, or purchasing a separate insurance policy for your prized instrument and leaving it at the studio (with fingers crossed that your bandmates don't forget to lock the door, and that they don't invite their friends to play with your gear when you're away).

  2. Make it difficult for a thief. Experts say that window bars, security screens, solid core doors, alarm monitoring signs, and other measures won't always stop a determined thief. But if your security methods will potentially delay the thief, then chances are, the criminal won't even bother with you and will instead pick a different target that is more inviting. This is the "low hanging fruit" rule. You want your fruit (your prized guitar) to be so high up in the tree (your neighborhood) that a potential thief won't ever bother going after it. No matter what extra security you have, remember to close and lock your windows and doors when you're away.

  3. Get a dog. A barking dog attracts attention, which is not what a burglar desires. If you don't already own a dog, check with your insurance provider to find out what breeds are allowed. Many insurance firms won't insure homes if you own a particular breed, such as a Pit Bull, Chow Chow, or German Shepherd. A word of warning: puppies have sharp teeth and like to chew. Don't let your new dog near your prized instrument. Keep the door to your music room closed, to prevent Fido from chewing on your prized instrument.

  4. How much risk are you willing to assume? Security professionals use a risk analysis process to weigh the risks, the likelihood of a particular risk event occuring, the cost (in terms of money or bad publicity) resulting from the event, the cost (in terms of money or time) to safeguard the asset, and lastly the amount of risk that the owner is willing to assume.

    This is the process you go through to decide if it's worth it to you to keep your gear safe. You do this already with car and renter's/homeowner's insurance.

    An extreme example is that it's probably not worth a separate $200 insurance policy to protect a $100 guitar. But if a guitar is priceless (think SRV's "Lenny" Strat, or Paul McCartney's Hofner bass), then not only is theft insurance worth purchasing, but additional steps are worth taking to protect it, since money by itself won't bring back a priceless instrument.

    Some examples of additional measures might include the installation of an alarm system, ensuring that the instrument travels first class with the performer, housing the instrument in an ATA-compliant flight case, using a guitar technician for stage performances to oversee the instrument and protect it from overzealous fans, and storing the equipment in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment.

    If I've got you thinking about protecting your music gear, then I've accomplished my mission. Be safe out there!

    This article represents the opinions of the author and is not intended as risk management or insurance advice. The reader is encouraged to discuss his/her specific risk exposure and/or insurance needs with a certified professional.

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