What is the last thing artists think of in the operation of their art festival exhibition businesses? Is it taxes? Possibly, but no. Rising show costs? Not that one either. Slow sales? Probably first, not last in the consciousness of today's festival exhibitors.
No, the last thing artists think of is...ready?...insurance. How much more boring could a topic be? And what possible bearing could insurance have on an artist's show participation.
As it turns out, this most sleep inducing of subjects is starting to become a hot topic among show directors and artists as weather changes and risk adverse promoters have pushed this issue to the front burner.
Here's the situation:
Artists are increasingly reporting that shows, fairs and festivals now require that all artists carry-and prove that they carry--an insurance policy. The policies must include liability coverage that protects the artists and sometimes the show from action (lawsuit) brought by a third party.
The main motivation for an artist may or may not be to cover potential liability, but there are other considerations as well, such as theft, accidents, acts of God and damages to an artist's work or booth by others.
Below is an overview of what you should consider when buying insurance for your business.
Liability: Liability insurance would cover your legal responsibility if your professional activities caused injury to people or damages to the property of third parties. Here are examples to consider:
Let's say you are exhibiting at a festival and a customer slips and falls in your tent or a piece of your art causes injury to them, or kids are running around playing near the exhibits and one of them trips on your tie-downs hits his head on your table and needs a couple of stitches. Although you could argue that the parents were negligent in letting their children do what they were doing, but the fact remains that your equipment played a key role in the injury.
Let's suppose that while setting up or tearing down you accidentally damage or break your neighbor's work. In both cases you can be required to pay medical bills for physical injury or pay for damage to his or her property.
What Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover? Be aware that your homeowner's policy most often does not cover your business even if your business is in your home. If you have a fire or flood, do not assume your homeowner's insurance will cover the tools and inventory associated with your business. In addition, you often need a specific rider to cover clients that come to your home. Your safest bet is to talk to your insurance representative and ask a series of "what if" questions. Be sure to read the fine print on your policy to understand exactly what is and isn't covered. You also need to consider events like workshops, residencies, open studios and commissions. Without insurance you can be held personally responsible if a person becomes injured or equipment is broken.
Inventory and tool insurance:
Do not assume the insurance policy that covers liability at an art show will also cover any damage to your booth or loss of inventory. Most policies will only cover liability should someone get hurt in your booth. If you want insurance that will cover tools, equipment and inventory damage or loss at a festival, you need a specific policy or rider that addresses that.
Business liability insurance versus business insurance: If you start looking into business insurance you will need fully understand the kind of policy being provided. "Business insurance" usually applies mostly to brick-and-mortar retail stores. Most artists don't fall under this category, so ensure that the policy specifically covers business liability for a traveling artist.
Does Your Car Insurance Cover Your Vehicle at a Show? In many cases, if you get in an accident on a way to or home from a show, your car insurance (depends on your policy) will cover damage and liability related to your car and to the other cars in the accident. These policies usually will not cover any damages to your product due to the accident. You need to have your vehicle licensed as a business vehicle and ensure you have a insurance to cover your products. Again, this is all about risk.
What about liability associated with my product? This is a liability claim arising from a faulty product or installation of art that results in injury or death. There is insurance available under "commercial package policy with general liability endorsed to cover products and completed operations" that will cover these types of situations.
The amount of coverage you need depends on a variety of factors, including:
Your art: Are you a member of an artists' association or guild? If you are a member of an artists' association, your membership dues may provide some kind of liability insurance protection. Even with a group policy, you may want additional coverage, or a policy that protects you as an individual.
How you work: Do you use subcontractors to install your art, or is it installed as you create it?
The material you work with: A granite sculpture can cause much more damage if toppled than a painting.
Your risk exposures: How often and how much do you and your art interact with others? Do you host workshops? Do you have large installation pieces in public spaces?
Every artist has unique circumstances that may require coverage. A great place to start is CERF - they have a page dedicated to artist insurance coverage. We have links to a couple public sources that will help you make informed decisions
My Tip From Experience:
Take a photo of your tent/booth and display before the show starts. Insurance companies will want proof that you weighted your tent properly for an outdoor event and proof that you had the inventory you are claiming as a loss.