Department for Culture Media and Sport

government indemnity scheme

The Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS) is an alternative to commercial insurance which allows the public access to objects within the UK that might not otherwise be available.

The Government does this by providing cost-free indemnity cover for loss or damage whilst items are on short or long time loan. It covers objects on loan from private lenders and other non-national institutions.

Any institution which the public has access to is eligible for indemnity cover, including accredited local authority and university funded bodies and National Trust properties.

What the scheme covers

The GIS has covered many major exhibitions in the UK and loans from around the world. It encourages non-national institutions to hold important exhibitions, or add to existing collections, without having to take out expensive commercial insurance. It also enables them to borrow objects or works of art for study purposes.

The GIS can cover objects and works of art whilst they are in transit, to and from the borrowing venue, storage, setting up, display and dismantling. This saves museums and galleries about £5 million a year.

Who issues indemnities

Indemnities are issued by DCMS in England, and devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, to non-national museums, galleries and libraries.

Arts Council England administers the Government Indemnity Scheme on behalf of Government – visit the Arts Council website for details.

DCMS remains responsible for developing policy on GIS and carries out the following actions:

  • reporting to Parliament, as required under the National Heritage Act 1980, section 16A (2), the total amount of risk on a 6-monthly basis
  • approving payments in response to any claims made through the Scheme
  • reviewing and developing policy on the operation of the Scheme and the management of risk