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OK, let’s address the elephant in the room. Insurance isn’t the coolest topic to discuss when it comes to your career. We get it. We’re sure you’re much more interested in articles on gear, recording techniques, business advice and so on. But, as a responsible musician, there comes a time when these matters must be addressed, and as we’ve pointed out before, it’s best to tackle insurance matters head on before the unthinkable occurs. And, as a responsible publication, we want to give you the resources you need to make informed decisions about your band’s business.
In case you missed some of our past entries on the subject, you can catch up with the links below.
Now’s the time to talk about coverage –specifically, what’s not covered by the typical entertainer’s insurance policy. It was one of the most frequently asked questions we received when we polled musicians about insurance, and one that we’d like to set the record straight on.▼ Article continues below ▼
As always, when it comes to such things, we urge you to consult professionals with any specific questions on buying coverage. For more information, you can visit our friends at K&K Insurance and remember, stay safe out there!
When you boil it down, insurance providers exist (in ultra-simplified terms) to provide you with peace of mind in case of accidents or so-called “acts of God.” We’ve covered what this means before, but an easy example to think of is damaging to a venue during load-in. Maybe you scrape the walls or floors with your road cases. In this case, it’s clearly an accident; no malice was intended. And even though that’s the case, the venue operators may be well within their rights to file a claim against you, as the responsible party.
Now, that’s all well and good. You made a mistake, damage occurred, and hopefully you’ve got a good insurance policy to cover you against such damages. But, why would your provider exclude any acts from their policies?
It oftentimes comes down to risk. How risky are you? More specifically, how risky are your behavior or actions? Are you engaging in or encouraging acts on stage that could potentially be dangerous and cause bodily harm, property damage or both? Well, that’s going to be a non-starter when it comes to writing you a policy.
Let’s look at some examples of notable exclusions.
Something you may not think of, but if you bring your dog out to the gig, it may all be fun and games until someone gets hurt. Regardless of fault, if the animal in question is over a certain weight threshold, and not a part of your stage act, you may not be covered for injuries or property damage Spike has caused during the show. So, think twice about bringing pets out on the road, or speak with your insurance provider about your specific policy to see which types of animal exclusions are part of the deal.
Here’s one of the more applicable scenarios. Your entertainer’s insurance policy may exclude such behavior arising from your participation or encouragement of others to participate in activities that could be dangerous. Right? While crowd surfing looks like a lot of fun if you’re in a Pearl Jam video from 1991, it’s a very risky behavior. And as we know, your insurance provider wants their ideal clients to be as risk-averse as possible. Since injuries are likely to occur, it’s a no-go. Don’t be surprised if this is an exclusion from your coverage.
Same for inciting and participating in mosh pits. It might be the epitome of rock n roll, but someone can get hurt if things get out of hand (heck, even if they don’t). And what have we learned? Say it with me – if you’re responsible for behavior that clearly has the potential to cause injury and/or damages, that could very well be an exclusion from your policy. Bottom line, don’t look for a lot of sympathy from your insurance provider if you’re hit with a claim from someone who was hurt because of your risky actions or your instructions to others in the audience to act in a way that got the person hurt.
Accidents are one thing. Those can happen to anyone. But the key difference when it comes to exclusions is the potential for injury or damage to occur because of actions you’ve taken. Loading in a bass amplifier is an action that typically doesn’t have the potential to end in injury or damage. Slam dancing, moshing, body surfing – these are the types of things your insurance provider will pull their hair out over.
At the end of the day, we’re not going to tell you how to run your show. It’s your art. We just want you to have the information you need to make your decisions. That’s all.
We’ve seen a lot of fun shows over the years that involve creative body paints and audience participation. Just know that your insurance provider might have exceptions in their policies for any substances you’re applying to yourself or others that aren’t non-toxic or FDA approved. So, if someone develops an illness or reaction because of some cheap paints with who-knows-what ingredients, that could potentially be all on you when you’re hit with a claim.
And lastly, while it should go without saying, we’ll say it anyway just so everyone’s on the same page. If you toss objects into the crowd, even in a benign way (like t-shirts or other types of merchandise), and someone gets hurt or your whip a record into a ceiling fan and it breaks, you might have some explaining to do with your provider. In some instances, they might exclude coverage for actions you’ve engaged in where physical items are thrown at or into the audience. Think of that the next time a cheap t-shirt cannon pops up in your eBay feed.
You’ve heard us repeat it a million times, but to be sure, always check over your policy and ask your provider to answer any questions you may have. They have the answers, trust us. The best policy (no pun intended) is consult a professional whenever you’re in doubt. Stay safe out there and look for more tips in the months ahead.
And in the meantime, check out https://www.kandkinsurance.com/sites/entertainer/pages/BandsPerformers.aspx – you may qualify to get a quote or even purchase insurance online.
*photo by Rodrigo Bertolino, used under a Creative Commons license.