Insurance is a way to protect yourself from financial loss - that could mean loss of funds, protection against the cost of a lawsuit, or protection of assets such as projectors or computer equipment.
Insurance is a contract, called a policy, in which an individual or non-profit receives financial protection or reimbursement against losses from an insurance company. You pay a fee called a premium (fee paid for the insurance). Many insurance policies include a deductible. If you make a claim against your insurance policy, the deductible is the amount you must pay upfront, before the insurer pays the rest. For example, if you had property insurance on a projector with a deductible of $500 and it was stolen, you would have to pay $500 to have the projector replaced by your insurance company.
Insurance is regulated federally and/or provincially please be sure to see the resources below for tips that are province-specific. It is also a competitive industry, so make sure to get quotes from multiple insurers before picking your policy.
It is always a good idea to have insurance, and each project or organization will have individual needs based on what they are doing. Some common examples are venues requiring General Liability insurance in their rental agreement, or property insurance for the equipment you own or are renting. Let's break down a few different types of insurance that are key for producing live performance events.
As we mentioned, a deductible is an amount you pay in the case of having to make a claim against your insurance. Generally, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium (or fee). It is important that you compare the costs of the premium, with the cost of the deductible, and the replacement cost of what you are insuring. For example, it may not be worth paying a $400 insurance premium to insure a projector that is worth $1,800 if the deductible is $1,000. If that projector was stolen, you would have paid $400 for the premium and $1,000 to replace it (saving you only $400).
Remember to ask for quotes from a variety of insurance companies and ask for quotes with different deductibles.
It is always a good idea to have insurance. You generally need insurance to protect yourself and your contractors when you are working on a production. Most venues will require that you have proof of insurance in their rental agreement. You may also need insurance for your board of directors, or for members of your team if your production requires driving and transportation. Let's break down a few different types of insurance that are key for producing live performance events.
- Annual Theatrical Insurance: an insurance policy that is specifically designed for theatre companies and productions that have longer production runs or seasons (as it is a year-long). It includes all kinds of things like touring, rentals, injuries, etc. It also includes driver’s insurance for rental vehicles (for up to a certain amount of weeks).
Examples: actONE Insurance
ActONE Theatrical Insurance is an annual insurance policy that is specifically designed for theatre companies and productions. It includes all kinds of things like touring, rentals, injuries, etc. It also includes driver’s insurance for rental vehicles (for up to a certain amount of weeks).
- Short Term Theatrical Insurance: is an option for a one-off production that is less costly than annual insurance. More relevant for a collective that may not be doing anything within the year. If there may be more than one production, it might make more sense to do annual insurance.
Examples: SOLO Insurance
SOLO Theatrical Insurance: is an option for a one-off production that is less costly than annual insurance. More relevant for a collective that may not be doing anything within the year. If there may be more than one production, it might make more sense to do annual insurance.
- D&O Insurance: insurance that covers Directors and Officers of a company, which are primarily on a Board of Directors. This prevents your directors’/officers’ personal finances in case of certain legal actions brought against the company.
- Driver’s Insurance: If your company owns a vehicle, you will require separate insurance for that which is usually driver-specific.
Insurance brokers are independent sales representatives for a selected number of different insurance companies and are paid commissions by the companies. A broker works as your organization’s representative and can shop around to find an insurance company that offers a policy that best meets your needs.
If you are hosting a workshop in a space, the company renting you the space may require proof of your insurance and a certificate that names their space. You or your insurance broker is able to grant a certificate for a specific event or space. This typically does not come at any extra charge and is a simple transaction through your broker or something you’re able to do on your own, with the provision of informing your insurance company when you have issued a certificate.
Most venues require proof of insurance with specified amounts of coverage in order to rent their space. This is in order to limit their own liability, and will have been requested by their own insurers.
On projects with youth or vulnerable people, you may request an extension on your insurance that protects the organization in the case of abuse committed by someone associated with the organization. In order to provide this coverage, your insurer may ask for proof of due diligence in limiting the likelihood of abuse, including asking for police checks, requiring information about hiring practices and organizational policies, etc.
This Abuse Liability Informational Questionnaire from ActOne can be helpful in understanding the policies you will need in place in order to work with young people (preview below):
For information on insurance coverage in Ontario with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), visit: WSIB.on.ca
Front Row Insurance: SOLO - specifically designed for producers who require insurance for smaller productions, that are up to 4 weeks long. It covers venue operators as well as the artists seeking insurance.
Dance Instructor Insurance - designed for freelance dance instructors, or for sole owners of a dance studio who teaches classes.
The Shepherd Group - offers commercial liability insurance for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
ArtsReady is an online emergency preparedness service by and for arts/cultural nonprofits that provide arts organizations with customized business continuity plans for post-crisis sustainability.
PROducing Tip: If your organization has a board, they may have connections to or recommendations for insurers.