Insurance Matters: What Happens When a Claim is Filed Against You as a Performer

by | Dec 1, 2017 | Music Contracts & Law

With the help of our friends at K&K Insurance, we’ve put together a number of helpful insurance resources for today’s performing musicians, including the following:

In this piece, we want to go over the procedures and practices that occur when the unthinkable happens: a claim is filed. If it gets to this point, then something has gone off-script. Perhaps your band has caused damage to the physical structure of a venue during your performance (either purposefully or accidentally), and the venue has decided to take action. What do you do?

What if someone was physically injured at your show and, similarly, they’ve decided to take action, as well?

These scenarios can be scary, especially for artists who are typically focused on making music, and not the intricacies of the insurance process or dealing with damages caused by their actions (or inactions). Look, no one ever thinks that awful things are gonna happen when out on tour, or playing that killer festival. But the truth is, they can, and do. And we want to make sure you know what happens during the process both in instances when you are covered by an insurance policy, and even in the instances when (unfortunately), you decided to not to purchase coverage.

K&K’s Chief Claims Officer, Dean Reed, was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the process:

What is the first step an artist should take if a claim is made against them?

Dean Reed: The most important thing to do is to take down the information of the accusing party and advise the party that you will notify your insurance company so that they can investigate the matter. If the performer is still on site they can take photos of the damage and obtain the name and contact information of any witnesses. If they are no longer at the location of the damage, simply take down the information of the reporting person at the venue and immediately report the matter to their agent or insurance company. I would recommend writing down as much information as possible about what you remember and what is being alleged because memories fade over the course of time.  Never assume any obligations or make any admissions of guilt or liability [ed note – our emphasis].

How does that process differ for an artist who has insurance compared to an artist with no insurance?

Dean Reed: Instead of contacting your insurance company the artist may want to contact their legal counsel for advice. The need to gather and preserve as much documentation as possible still remains important. Again, never assume any obligation or make any admissions of guilt or liability.

Who are the people an artist will typically deal with during this process, and what will those people do for an artist who has a policy? Again, what can an artist without insurance expect?

Dean Reed: The artist with insurance will deal with a claims examiner and possibly an attorney defending their interests. They will handle the investigation and advise the artist of the next steps and deal with the adverse party [on behalf of the artist]. An artist without insurance is on their own to figure out what to do, who to contact, and how to respond. [ed note – that sounds like a solid case for investigating insurance options before your play any more live shows, doesn’t it?]

And finally, if possible, is there any sort of time/cost difference an artist can expect with and without insurance when it comes time to deal with a claim against them?

Dean Reed: The most glaring difference is the artist without insurance incurs the financial costs and time to investigate, defend and possibly compensate another party for the claim against them.  The artist with insurance has a company behind them that will do that for them so that they can focus on their art.

We also received some helpful input from Mark A. Beck, Senior Vice President of K&K’s Merchandising Division.

“I completely agree with the advice Dean has already provided.  And just for reference, I’ve included a section from a standard policy (usually found in all general liability policies in some form or another) that outlines the duties of the insured when something happens.  To me, some of the more important points include; reporting the occurrence or suit as soon as practicable, documenting the details of what happened, cooperate with the insurance company completely, and don’t attempt to settle the matter themselves.

One additional item that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the importance of carefully reviewing and understanding any written agreements the artist/performer signs.  It is always recommended they seek legal advice before signing a contract.  In many cases a written agreement will include specific insurance requirements, so the performer should make sure they share those details with their insurance agent or company.  Many times, the contract will require the performer to add the venue to their policy as an additional insured on their policy (essentially sharing their policy with the venue at that point).  While this is a standard request and practice in the insurance world, some companies will charge additional premium to add an additional insured, so the performer should ask how that is handled when purchasing their coverage (in our case, we do not charge extra premium to add a venue or someone else as an additional insured).   Also with respect to contracts, they often include a clause wherein the performer is agreeing to ‘hold harmless’ the venue for any loss or damage that occurs.  And if a loss occurs, be sure to share any written agreements with the insurance company during the claims process.”

From the Conditions Section of a General Liability Policy:

Duties In The Event Of Occurrence, Offense, Claim Or Suit

  1. You must see to it that we are notified as soon as practicable of an “occurrence” or an offense which may result in a claim. To the extent possible, notice should include:

(1) How, when and where the “occurrence” or offense took place;

(2) The names and addresses of any injured persons and witnesses; and

(3) The nature and location of any injury or damage arising out of the “occurrence” or offense.

  1. If a claim is made or “suit” is brought against any insured, you must:

(1) Immediately record the specifics of the claim or “suit” and the date received; and

(2) Notify us as soon as practicable. You must see to it that we receive written notice of the claim or “suit” as soon as practicable.

  1. You and any other involved insured must:

(1) Immediately send us copies of any demands, notices, summonses or legal papers received in connection with the claim or “suit”;

(2) Authorize us to obtain records and other information;

(3) Cooperate with us in the investigation or settlement of the claim or defense against the “suit”; and

(4) Assist us, upon our request, in the enforcement of any right against any person or organization which may be liable to the insured because of injury or damage to which this insurance may also apply.

  1. No insured will, except at that insured’s own cost, voluntarily make a payment, assume any obligation, or incur any expense, other than for first aid, without our consent.

We hope this provided some helpful information, and might make you think twice about neglecting to opt for some insurance coverage the next time you hit the stage. We wish to thank K&K Insurance for their great assistance with this article, especially Dean Reed, Mark Beck and Marketing Manager Lorena Hatfield. For more information, to purchase coverage online or to simply to speak with an entertainment insurance expert about your needs, we encourage you to head to