Whether you are buying or selling a guitar remotely, it is usually a good idea to inquire about sufficient insurance in case something goes wrong.
While a nominal value may be insured with the shipping cost it is unlikely that it will cover the repair or replacement of an instrument. So how does it work?
The major shipping companies provide insurance for damaged or missing packages for an added cost of about 1.2% of the claimed value. But if you have to file an insurance claim it can be very time-consuming and your claim may not be honored. So you may want to invest in third-party insurance or just sell locally.
Today let’s take a look at how to use two of the biggest private companies to ship guitars with insurance: FedEx and UPS. Furthermore, we will focus on domestic shipping in the USA so things don’t get too messy.
How does insurance work when shipping a guitar?
First, let’s tackle something that has always bothered me about this whole situation. If you are paying a company to provide a service why should you have to pay extra for them not to mess it up?
My best guess is it has something to do with fraud such as shipping something that is already broken and then blaming the shipping company.
And of course, accidents do happen as well. So they have to pad their costs and really the insurance prices are pretty decent.
With UPS, a package with a declared value under $100 is automatically insured.
If you declare a value over $100 your insurance will cost $1.15 for each $100 or portion of $100 (based on elementary math, does that mean they expect about 1% of packages to be damaged or lost?).
So shipping a guitar with a declared value of $2250 will cost $26.45 to insure.
For FedEx, the system works in a very similar way but I believe the charge per $100 is $1.25, slightly higher than UPS.
Do most shipping companies insure guitars for damage when shipped?
Guitars aren’t really given any special treatment when they are shipped. There are restrictions on things such as jewelry and artwork though.
But guitars can be fragile and unless you are having a company package them for you, you must follow the suggested packing guidelines.
FedEx even has a specific web page about how to package stringed instruments.
So it is up to you to follow these instructions or they probably won’t honor an insurance claim if the guitar is damaged because you didn’t package it properly.
What does damage insurance cover for shipped guitars?
If a guitar does get damaged and your insurance claim is approved you won’t necessarily get the replacement value.
The situation may be evaluated and they will only cover the cost of a repair.
If the damage is something like a broken headstock then the instrument will never be the same even after repair but like it or not, those are the risks you take when you ship something.
And that is assuming that the claim gets approved at all.
For example, if the guitar got wet in the rain and you didn’t tape all of the seams on the box then you may be at fault.
Who’s responsible for claiming the insurance, the buyer or the seller?
The seller who shipped the guitar is responsible for filing an insurance claim, although I believe UPS allows the buyer to report the damage.
Remember the contract is between the shipper and the shipping company.
But the buyer will most likely have to take part in the claim too so communication between the seller and buyer is important.
Documentation such as the original invoice to confirm the item’s value, photos of the damage to the item, and photos of the packaging (box) will be needed.
With UPS the item may have to go to a UPS office to be evaluated too.
Sometimes it may be easier for the buyer just to send the package back to the seller, get a refund, and let the seller deal with the insurance claim.
The consensus of a lot of people online is that FedEx is more likely to honor an insurance claim than UPS so that’s something to keep in mind when shipping high-dollar instruments.
Do shipping companies charge extra for insuring a guitar?
There is no surcharge for shipping musical instruments in particular.
But packaged guitars or basses tend to be very large in size. So you may end up paying an additional handling surcharge based on the dimensions of the package.
Now forgetting about the shipping companies for a moment you can also insure your packages via third-party insurance.
Some of the options include Heritage Musical Instrument Insurance, Secursus, or using ShipGuitars.com (ships through UPS but you are covered under the company’s insurance and I think it’s even free).
You can read a little more about how it works in our article here:
LINK TO SHIPPING
So if you are shipping a really valuable instrument one of these services could be a lifesaver.
Sell your guitar locally if you don’t want to deal with shipping and insurance
After all of this and the skyrocketing costs of fuel and shipping, it seems like it may be better to just buy and sell locally. This depends a lot on what kind of area you live in but if you’re in or near a metro area then take advantage of it.
Use Craigslist and social media sites to connect with other musicians in your area and leave the shipping to the retail shops. At Gear Aficionado we have a new free marketplace where you can list your gear and whether you want to ship or only sell locally is up to you.
If you do decide to ship your guitars, hopefully you have a better understanding of how the shipping insurance works now and you can protect yourself better.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.