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New Framer and Home Based Shop Insurance Question

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Scout, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. Scout

    Scout Grumbler

    Dear Grumblers,
    Happy New Year!
    I retired a few years ago and my wife and I have decided to supplement our income with a home based framing shop. We're not looking to take on the world, just bring in a little extra dough to close the income gap...
    Anyways, we have most all of the basics for the shop set up... we have been collecting used pieces off craigslist and have pneumatic underpinner, fletcher mat cutter, fletcher glass/mat wall mount cutter, dry mount press, and frame square table saw... plus got work tables, huge flat file, and corner and mat sample displays. The shop is ready to go!
    Our shop is a ways out of town in a pretty rural setting and there are already a few long established frame shops in town. I have been too shy to drop by any of them to check them out mostly because I'm a little wary of the reception that the "professionals" may give to us basement dwellers. Needless to say, we're not expecting nor really wanting to entertain the "walk in" customer.
    Our plan was/is to make connections with local designers and decorators to service more of the corporate/remodel type demand as well as take whatever work may come in.
    Part of the plan is to offer delivery and installation service.

    So here are my questions: I have gotten a quote for business insurance and after it's all said and done, they came back with a quote for $900/year. Is this a reasonable number for a liability policy? The topic of insurance seems to come up here every once in a while, but after looking I haven't been able to find a lot of specifics.
    Are there any framing specialized insurance companies that the Grumble would recommend?
    Lastly, in your experience, is it even worth offering installation?

    I have been lurking for a few months now, reading up and learning a tremendous amount of info from you all. This forum is a great resource for someone like myself who is just starting out. I finally decided it was time to come out of my shell and say "hi!"

    Kindest Regards and Best Wishes for a happy and prosperous new year,
    shayla likes this.
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  2. graysalchemy

    graysalchemy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Hi Scott.

    In answer to your last question, if the US is anything like the UK A BIG FAT NO I wouldn't entertain a hanging service. In the UK your standard 3rd party liability wouldn't cover you you would need way more cover. EU health and safety laws are way too prohibitive here and if the commercial site is a building site when you fit the pictures (most hotel and bar jobs will be) then you need site certificates etc. Its also quite a ball ache and is one of those 'services' which you wont make much money on you will make more framing the pictures. However I suspect the US is a little different with respect to health and safety etc, but still I think your time will be better spent doing the framing. You could always find a joiner who has the insurance etc to fit them for you and still be able to offer the service, but still check your liability insurance that you are covered.

    With regards to your set up to do commercial, work have you got the space and the machinery to do this type of work? If you are going to do any kind of volume which Corporate/remodel suggests to me then you may struggle.

    Sorry I haven't been able to answer your actual question being UK based I am not qualified to comment. And sorry if my post sounds a bit less than positive but i have been a commercial framer for nearly 20 yrs, though I did start off small and in a basement.

    Good luck with your new venture and keep us posted how you get on.:):)
  3. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Hi Scott,
    Good luck with your new venture.
    From my experience, a shop targeting designer/corporate is better suited in a commercial area. For one, your customers may want to bring their clients along to work on designs. Also how about material deliveries?
    Secondly, I would also discourage installations. Unless you do this a lot, it can be very time consuming and will require special insurance. Also, your location may tempt you to offer pick up and delivery. DONT this for free. Once you start, customers will expect this.
    I would start by offering your services to friends and acquaintances and grow from there. Avoid craiglist ads as this only attracts bottom feeders.
    How about making some products to sell at fairs, farmers markets in your area and use this as a marketing tool.
    Re insurance: I believe you will need something to cover customers art as well as basic product liability.
  4. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Hi, Scott. Welcome to the Grumble!
    Scout likes this.
  5. Scout

    Scout Grumbler

    Thank you all for the comments and suggestions. All worthy of consideration.
    -I think I have enough space to accommodate some volume. My shop downstairs is approx 1400sq' heated and finished plus I have additional space for storage in a detached shop.
    -I have no problem having designers bring clients, although that might seem a bit weird to the client to come out to someone's house for framing design when there are shops in town? I'm not excited to have random walk-ins coming up my driveway, though.
    -material deliveries could be troublesome, we can not take freight trucks, but UPS and Fedex manage to come up here all the time. I imagine if I were ready to make consistent orders, my local distributor would probably put me on their route. They are really great folks!
    -So far, we have mostly been experimenting with the framing process, getting a little more experience framing our own photos or prints and consigning pieces in local boutique shops. Friends and acquaintances seem enthusiastic, everyone seems to have something they want framed in conversation, but getting them or their art out to the shop is... difficult. I have been milling a lot of my own moldings (mouldings? which is more professional? does it matter?) and experimenting with different finishes. This is actually one of my favorite parts of the business. I used to work with my hands a lot in a high intensity/high stress environment, working with wood out in my shop is actually pretty relaxing to me and rewarding when those sticks get turned into something neat.
    -Good suggestion on the farmers market and craft fairs, we have done a little homework on those and may give them a shot in the spring. :) Although, we don't want to have a ton of money tied up in inventory, so it could be a little sticky bringing enough product to the stall at the farmers market to make it worth doing.
    -Also, great point about coverage of customers' art, I will be sure to ask the quoting agent about that!

    Thank you for the replies! Keep em coming!
    And thanks for the warm welcome!
  6. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    That insurance amount seems quite low to me, but then, we don't have all the numbers so hard to give you any advice.

    Framing is more than building a frame. Do you have any experience in conservation framing? If not, stick to things that are replaceable and start by taking some basic framing classes. More so you know what not to do. :)
    Joe B likes this.
  7. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'm home based but I do shows and need coverage for the shows. My annual insurance is $1300.00 plus change. Mainly $1,000,000.00 liability which covers my shop and at shows. I also have a storage space insured, coverage for customers that get injured on my premises, coverage for customers art on premises, over $50,000.00 in equipment, & $30,000.00 in supplies including moulding & mats.

    $900.00 a year isn't bad but make sure you have enough coverage so that you don't loose you house if a customer gets hurt on your property. I would rather pay a little more for insurance than to take chances with my home.

    And finally, like Ylva said, be sure you know what you are doing before taking a customers art, photo, or some memobilia in. If you don't have knowledge enough to frame it don't take chances and dont' start guessing. Classes are cheaper than trying to replace and unreplaceable piece of art or memobilia. just saying. Joe B
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2017
  8. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God



    For someone starting out the WCAF show in Las Vegas this month would be super beneficial.

    You will get a perspective on the business that can be obtained in no other way.

    It might cost hundreds to get there but you might measure your savings in thousands.


  9. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Nearly 4 decades of framing experience but also have about a decade of real estate and finance. I used to write and teach a lot of real estate law courses so I will give you one huge piece of advice here so you don't get a surprise in the future.

    Since your business is occupying part of your home you better look into your homeowners insurance policy. Framing in you primary residence is considered light manufacturing as a commercial business which may invalidate your homeowners insurance policy.

    You also need to read your mortgage note if you have any financing on your home. The mortgage note may specifically prohibit commercial manufacturing in the primary residence which would in turn accelerate the mortgage causing it to be due in full at the time the operation is discovered. Unfortunately these consequences are almost exclusively discovered at the time of an insurance claim.

    Be sure you are fully protected in both your business and residence and your finance agreement on a home mortgage is not a document that can be amended.
  10. Scout

    Scout Grumbler

    Thank you for the suggestion. I agree and I'm trying to learn as much as I can from as many sources as possible. There are no classes locally in my neck of the woods. I do care deeply about the conservation aspects of framing and absolutely respect my clients and their artwork so I will tread very carefully in this area.
    Part of the reason for the low quote may be because I don't really have a tremendous amount of equipment and virtually no inventory to insure, so I didn't add that on to the quote. That may change in the future, but at this point I didn't think it would be worth adding on.
  11. Scout

    Scout Grumbler

    Joe, thanks for the info on your coverage. My coverage numbers look pretty close to those. Agreed on paying a little more vs. risking the home.

    I learned a long time ago that pride and/or greed will make a person write checks that their talent/knowledge/skill can't cash. I can honestly say I would rather turn a job away than ruin someone's precious item along with my integrity and reputation. Thanks for the advice!
  12. Scout

    Scout Grumbler

    I would love to go!
    I think it's unlikely that I will be able to make it happen this year, though...
    I like your take on the cost vs. savings! Maybe I can work that into my sales pitch to Mrs. Scout ;)

    Thanks for the welcome and thoughtful advice.
  13. Scout

    Scout Grumbler

    This is great info and suggestion! I will be looking into this immediately!
  14. prospero

    prospero SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Welcome Scout. :cool:

    One thing not to skimp on is insurance on goods held in trust. ie. Customer's stuff on your premises
    while you do your thing with it. The replacement values on these goods is going to vary constantly,
    but every now and then you are going to get a lot of quite valuable stuff on the plot. Check with your
    proposed insurers that you can take temporary extra cover for valuable artwork. Other times you need
    to establish a base level to cover what you typically hold.
    Insurers may insist on you beefing up your security/fire precautions.
    Scout likes this.
  15. Scout

    Scout Grumbler

    Thank for the reply. This something that I had assumed would be covered along with the business liability, but I will ask specifically to make sure.

    Does anyone have experience with Capax-Frame-it insurance? I saw they are presenting at WCAF and appear to have some framing industry specific insurance. I filled out the online form for a quote... hopefully they respond quickly.

    Good news! I went ahead and joined PPFA and booked an appearance at WCAF! I'm excited to go to some classes and hang out with the pros for a couple days!

  16. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The best price on insurance that I have found is through American Family. I checked with the insurance companies at the WCAF last year to see if I could get better rates, they weren't even close to what I was paying with American Family. I do not know if you can get the same rates because rates are based on geographic location, credit, and a few other things they throw into the mix. I have my house, cars, boat, & life as personal with American Family and business is a separate policy but I get a better rate because of having other policies with them.
  17. David Waldmann

    David Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We used Capax a dozen-fifteen years ago for our property/GL because the price was just too good to ignore. However we eventually dropped them mid-term because of a severe lack of customer service. This was likely a one-time situation (we were moving to a new facility and there was some kind of mixup/problem of which I no longer remember the details).

    However, we do currently use the other PPFA affiliated insurance, Meadowbrook, for our WC. And even disregarding the dividend (which, for the last 5 or so years we've used them, has paid for the PPFA annual dues x 3-5), their rates have been better than our local agent. And any claims have been well handled by them.

    I really believe in buying local as much as possible, and even when we've had quotes come in at 10-20% cheaper than our local agent (of nearly 30 years relationship) we have held out. There is nothing like a person that comes and talks to you, explains what you are or are not getting, and tells you to file a claim when you didn't realize you had an insurable loss. But there comes a time when the $$ are too much to ignore.

    BTW, that rate you are quoting sounds really low. I would be reading the fine print.
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