Break A leg! A Guide To Insurance For Shows

You can rehearse until you know your lines backwards, forwards, upside down and can recite them while unicycling in a tutu down the Royal Mile but no matter how well prepared you think you are, it always helps to check over your insurance for the small things that make a big difference.

The stage is set…

FSB Insurance Service offers public liability cover that can be purchased for the duration of the event in question, rather than as a year-long policy. It’s worth checking if your own insurer can offer the same to cover your show.

You might be aiming to make your audience split their sides with laughter but you should hold public liability insurance to cover any damage or loss inflicted on third parties for which you can be held responsible. Many venues require certain Public Liability limits of indemnity of specific values so make sure you’re aware of what they are before taking out a policy to make sure you aren’t caught short!

If you aren’t a one-man show (or band, or street magician or experimental Jazz/heavy metal flute player) chances are you will need a hand. Whether it’s your band of merry men (and women) or the local talent, if you are paying them for their services you will also need to ensure you have Employer’s Liability insurance which is a legal requirement.

Bringing the house down…

If you’re working at any height over 3m in your venue (whether setting up lighting rigs or swinging from the rafters during your show) you need to declare this to your insurer to be noted in your policy. If you don’t and things take an unexpected turn you may not be covered by your insurance.

Equally, use of heat (either from your tools, special effects or your sizzling wit and humour) also needs to be declared as they are considered an extra risk that isn’t covered under standard policy wordings. It is possible to insure against personal accident or injury which may be advisable if you’re planning to throw yourself/someone else at/over/under/through something!

Of course you’ve made sure your equipment, props and property are in good working order but have you insured it against any damage at the event or during any travel to and from the Fringe? Making sure this is covered will ensure that you aren’t left out of pocket if a clumsy performer/guest/friend/overenthusiastic fan damages your lighting rig or knocks over your camera! It’s also worth specifying to your insurer that you will be travelling with your equipment as some policies may not cover use ‘off-site’ as standard.

The cast and supporting crew…

You may need to hire someone to help you get your show on the road, make sure you know the difference between labour only and true subcontractors so you don’t get caught out.

Labour-only subcontractors are essentially employees who are taken on in order to act as additional labour, however you are considered liable for labour-only subcontractors in the same way as a direct employee. They should therefore be included on your insurance as if they were employees regardless of whether they have their own insurance.

Bona-fide subcontractors on the other hand work under their own supervision and direction, using their own tools. Most Public Liability policies will include cover for genuine subcontractors as a standard extension, subject to annual payments not exceeding a percentage of turnover and a requirement that you keep a record of their Public Liability insurance. In some cases you may also need to ensure that the bona-fide subcontractors have a limit of Public Liability insurance which is no less than the limit on your policy.

The baskets are in and the whiskey seats are full…

If you’re handling cash, it’s wise to have money cover added to your insurance policy which will cover loss of business money when carried by the insured (you) or other employees. Personal accident cover is sometimes included for those carrying the money.

It's possible to insure against cancellation due to bad weather or absence of key personnel. If your show needs to be cancelled, it can leave you out of pocket! This type of cover will foot the bill for the cost of refunded tickets and other sunk costs as a result.

Curtain call…

Obviously, we hope that those of you arranging events and shows have a seamless, uneventful experience (in the best possible way!) but it’s always sensible, if a bit boring, to make sure your bases are covered! It's never too early to put in the groundwork to ensure your masterpiece can be performed in its full glory!

Hopefully you’re able to make the most of your events and the above is useful to you! If you’d like to discuss your insurance requirements please do give us a call Monday-Friday from 9am-5.30pm excluding bank holidays.