Why Do Venues Require Bands to Have Liability Insurance?

We’ve written numerous articles on insurance for musicians, covering everything from basic terms and phrases, to specific details about liability coverage and policy requirements. We’ve also asked our readers to write in with any insurance-related questions they may have, so that we can help provide answers for bands trying to navigate the business end of their affairs.

We recently received this question, and it’s a good one that’ll hopefully apply to a lot of working artists out there.

“Why would a venue or event require my band to show proof of insurance before booking us for a gig? Doesn’t the venue carry its own liability insurance? So, wouldn’t we be covered under that? I don’t understand why my band would also need a policy just to perform at their venue or at their event.”

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Excellent question, and not an uncommon one. Think of insurance like this: it’s meant to be in place in case of the “what-ifs.” What if the venue owner is negligent and the unthinkable happens – say a tragic fire breaks out that would have otherwise been avoidable. Should the victims of that fire be responsible for medical bills, etc.? No, you’d think not. This is why insurance (and also why lawsuits) exist (see: the our previous article on the difference between an insurance claim and a lawsuit for more info). 

Or “what if” the building they own (or stage they provide) is structurally unsafe and they knew about it, and took no measure to secure the structure. Then another accident occurs. You’d rightly think that any claims and lawsuits would go against the venue in such a case, yes?

Well, let’s flip the tables. “What if” your band causes bodily harm to an event attendee. Now, it might have been an accident, or it might have been a malicious act. In any event, it’s not unheard of for the attendee to go after the venue or event organizers for damages. You’ve likely seen headlines to that effect. But you’ve also probably seen headlines where actual artists are named in lawsuits and claims. In these cases, if the band is found to be at fault for damages, then can you now see why a venue would want themto carry a liability insurance policy? 

It should come as no great shock that everyone is out to protect their own interests, and obviously that’s going to include venue owners and show organizers. So yes, while they likely (or at least, SHOULD) be carrying their own insurance, it’s pretty clear why they might also want (read: require) performers to show proof of insurance before bookings, as well.

Think of it this way. If there are lots of drivers on the road, how would you determine who should have to have an auto insurance policy if two cars were to collide? Well, doesn’t it stand to reason that ALL drivers should carry their own policies, just in case? You never know when another driver might swerve into your lane, causing an unavoidable collision involving your vehicle. If both drivers are insured, the process of making both whole again (and depending on your state, placing proper fault), goes much smoother. Same concept for live events – you can’t predict who might be at fault for damages if things were to go wrong at a show, so shouldn’t it follow that all possible parties that couldbe at potential fault, protect themselves and get coverage? 

At the end of the day, it shouldn’t surprise you that clubs, venues and festival bookers want to cover their butts. They’ve got enough logistical issues to deal with, and insurance is certainly going to be a top priority (at least to those who have their acts together), especially if they want to secure funding from outside sources.

So, the next time you get a request to show proof of insurance, you’ll know why. Trust us, it’s in everyone’s best interest just to play it safe and make sure you have good coverage in place, rather than end up in a situation where the unthinkable happens and the fingers of blame are pointed at you, without any protection.

CONCLUSION

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 www.kandkinsurance.com– you may qualify to get a quote or even purchase insurance online. 

main photo by Neil Bradley

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