Who needs liability insurance?

May 28, 2012 at 08:06 AM · Something that Paul and Elise said in another thread made me curious to ask this question. I do, as a matter of course, have a liability insurance policy specifically for playing and teaching.

I was talking to my colleagues about this. All said, "no" one asked what it was. The UK does not have a litigious culture but I see this as a logical thing to have like wearing a seatbelt or insuring your violin.

Who here has this insurance and who has chosen not to take it? What was the reason for taking it or not?

Cheers Carlo

Replies (21)

May 28, 2012 at 12:41 PM · Where I made my last CD at a certain university, their contract essentially forced me to take out a temporary liability insurance policy. I guess this eased their minds in case I went on a rampage and tore the place down!

May 28, 2012 at 02:59 PM · I'm not sure why one would need insurance for PLAYING. However, if you teach at your home there could be an argument for it. For example, I have a very steep stairs up into my house. One simply has to calculate the odds of someone being injured, and that is quite low.

May 28, 2012 at 03:07 PM · @Scott. What if you were trying a colleagues instrument and dropped it? Or you hit somebody else's violin with your bow and put a large scratch on their 18th century Italian? You left a door open and thieves got in? I can think of many reasons.

Cheers Carlo

May 28, 2012 at 11:34 PM · I have it but in the form of an umbrella policy which takes over where my other insurance (auto, home) leaves off to give me greater coverage. What you have to do is assess what gaps exist in your current coverage, if any. Any aspect of your life that could cause injury to someone else or their property is potentially something that needs to be covered by some form of insurance. However, you need to carefully evaluate the insurance to make sure it covers whatever the risk is.

May 29, 2012 at 07:56 AM · Carlo,

If I damaged a colleague's violin, then I presumably wouldn't need insurance because their insurance would cover it (I would pay the deductible, though). If thieves got my violin, my insurance would cover it. However, if it could be proven that I left the door open, perhaps it wouldn't. I doubt one can get insurance for what happens if you're negligent and can't collect on insurance. Instrument insurance is cheap, though.

Liability insurance for injury or death is a different matter. People slip on ice, trip on toys, or fall on stairs. And they could sue you. The odds are non-zero, but very small. So it depends on what you're comfortable with. Personally, I don't worry about it. I have a finite amount of money that can go for insurance, and so I put it into life insurance for my family. That is a better investment.

Venues will often require liability insurance. I use EventHelper.com if I rent a church.


ps stop thinking up doomsday scenarios. It isn't healthy.....

May 29, 2012 at 10:24 AM · @Scott. I probably am being paranoid.

A personal liability insurance in the UK specifically for teaching and playing is about £45 for a year. The schools I teach in require me to have it. It's a very small price to pay. I too have life insurance.

Cheers Carlo

May 30, 2012 at 04:08 AM · Those who teach in the home need to know that their liability coverage does not necessarily extend to activities in which the home is used for a business.

On a similar line, I have heard that some insurance policies will not cover your violin if it is stolen from your car. Huh?

May 30, 2012 at 06:01 AM · My youth orchestra carries liability insurance in the event of an emergency during our activities. As a non-profit, it's important to safeguard the well-being of the young musicians who come to study, and one of those ways is ensuring that in the event of an accident, adequate financial resources are in place to take care of them.

May 30, 2012 at 06:01 AM · Paul, my insurance policy excludes violins left in unattended vehicles at my own choice. This brings my premium down about 50%. I have also chosen to have a high excess and this option brings it down again. My premium is well under a thousand.

I would never leave my children or my violins in a car alone.

Cheers Carlo

May 30, 2012 at 11:04 AM · I get mine from the Musicians' Union in the U.K. which is worth £10 million believe it or not!

Regrettably I think it is essential. I once led an ensemble for a community dance performance and the pit was choc-a-bloc with electric keboards, percussion, guitars, amplifiers and even a scratch turntable. The chairman of the board of directors of this dance company was a busybody and went everywhere she was not supposed to go. Had she tripped over an amplifier she would have been the first to sue for damanges, even though she should not have been in the musicians' area in the first place.

For some of my work I have to prove I have Public Liability Insurance before I am accepted, but fortunately usually i just have to affirm I am a member of the MU.

May 30, 2012 at 07:04 PM · Although this is not liability insurance for issues in a venue or space, I believe having instrument insurance is vital depending on how "on the go" one is. Especially those that regularly are in a performance environment, the rate of attrition is especially high during rehearsals and performance. I have seen people drop and break their bows, a piano soloist throw their arms up in bravado at the end of Rachmaninov knocking the concertmaster's bow out of their hands which fortunately only had the tip broken, and met someone with their repaired cello at a shop telling of a conductor slipping off the podium and falling into their cello. These things can happen at casual environments as well.

I always take my violin with me out of the car, and try to be protective of my instruments. I feel much safer that I've taken measures to protect my own investments and equipment for things beyond my own control. That is what insurance is for, and depends on if the premiums are worth it for you.

There are a number of insurance companies offering coverage, and each have different rates, and coverages. Some places that come to mind are heritage, clarion, and afm union. If you ship instruments or are looking to send your instrument to a dealer or person, it is good to have coverage well in advance to be covered for shipment. If not, you will be charged a high premium for single shipment coverage. It is kind of like shopping around for any insurance such as medical or car insurance.

Back on the subject of liability insurance, do any of you know the names of companies that offer liability insurance at competitive premiums? I assume if it is for a performance (student recital, etc) or for your own home, it shouldn't be so much, but I haven't dealt with this before. Would this prevent or cover any kind of lawsuit or medical injuries that happen at a site?

May 31, 2012 at 03:35 AM · So Carlo, you're on your way home from a gig and you want to stop at the grocer -- you take your fiddle in the store with you?

May 31, 2012 at 07:58 AM · "Back on the subject of liability insurance, do any of you know the names of companies that offer liability insurance at competitive premiums?"

The lowest rates Thomas are invariably through a musicians' union or professional organisation. The reason I belong to a union is for legal advice and public liability insurance, the rest of their agenda is of no interest to me.

May 31, 2012 at 01:42 PM · Just one advantage of having instrument insurance, at least my company, is that my violin is insured if I send it off to be repaired or adjusted. The cost of insuring an instrument is so expensive now that perhaps one shipment a year may equal or exceed the cost of a policy.

One thing that strikes me as a joke, though, is the extra 1% now charged for a "terrorism premium." Give me a break.

May 31, 2012 at 04:31 PM · Thanks Ian. I didn't know that unions had coverage for liability insurance. I guess I can gain some benefit from the several hundred dollars a year in membership and orchestra dues for something. :)

May 31, 2012 at 07:57 PM · @Paul. Absolutely! I never leave my violin in the car.

Cheers Carlo

May 31, 2012 at 07:59 PM · Sorry, double post.

May 31, 2012 at 08:15 PM · So Carlo, you're on your way home from a gig and you want to stop at the grocer -- you take your fiddle in the store with you?

Paul, I always do this. I've hauled cellos through Trader Joe's, basses to PTA meetings, violas to doctor's appointments. Family rule #1 at our house is, "No instruments left in the car, ever!" I don't know how I would feel is I drove something that had a trunk- I have a station wagon- but I won't chance it. I personally know four people who have had cellos stolen out of cars in the last couple of years.

May 31, 2012 at 08:19 PM · Carlo wrote;

"Absolutely! I never leave my violin in the car."

Nor should anyone.

My wife has inexpensive guitars, compared to fiddle standards. It would be really handy for her to leave them in the car sometimes, but she knows the theft and damage rates from my customer experiences.

Insurance would probably cover it, in her case, minus a deductible, but it's not so much about the money. It's about having something you love, worked hard to find and own, which one can never find an exact replacement for.

June 3, 2012 at 12:56 AM ·

A friend left a banjo in the car once. When I realised, I tried to hasten him outside to retrieve it, but it was too late. Someone had broken into the car and left another banjo.

June 3, 2012 at 07:19 AM · If you leave a viola case on view you can use the disabled parking spaces without a permit.

Cheers Carlo

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