Does an Artist Need Insurance?
Published FCAA | Chalk Art Nation, January 20, 2022
Author: Chris Monaghan, Professional Artist/Member of The Chalk Art Nation January 8th, 2022.
Authors Note: From 2007 to 2021 I was a successful insurance agent in Michigan. Over the years | had sought coverage for many unique professions and situations including protection for street painters, muralists and crafters. Although every situation is different, insurance can help protect you when something unexpected happens.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: As of 12/31/2021 / sold my insurance agency and I'm no longer affiliated with any carriers. Coverage can vary from state to state so it's always best to consult your insurance agent when seeking the right policy protection.
SHOULD AN ARTIST GET INSURANCE? The simple answer is “yes”. If you are doing art in a professional capacity you'll want protection in place if you cause property damage, injury or have your equipment stolen (to name just a few common exposures). Oftentimes, the organization or person hiring you will require you have a minimum $1,000,000 of liability coverage. If you do any of these activities you'll want to consider getting coverage in place before the project starts:
Furthermore, if you hire someone to assist you with the work you should have workers compensation insurance in case they are injured on the job. Many states require it unless the assistant carries their own protection or has an exemption. Non-compliance can be costly in fees and penalties.
In the case of a street painting festival, usually the organization hosting the event will have coverage in place that protects the artists, people attending the event and volunteers. In most cases obtaining your own policy isn't necessary.
If you are street painting as a featured artist for an event (not a festival) sponsored by a corporation or organization then having insurance is highly recommended. Examples would include a product promotion or marketing event.
3 IMPORTANT TYPES OF COVERAGE TO CONSIDER
Commercial General Liability - Protects you in the event of a third party injury or property damage you are found responsible for through the services you offer. It can provide coverage for associated medical care, damages and legal fees arising from a lawsuit. Copyright, duplications and trademark infringement issues may be covered under CGL as well. At minimum this is one coverage you'll want to have in place.
Commercial Property - Protects your equipment that you use such as paint supplies, compressors, lifts, office equipment, etc. in the event of fire, storm, vandalism and more. If you own or lease a studio it will provide coverage for the physical structure you are responsible for and things inside it that you own. Consider all of these things when calculating the value of your art operation and the amount of coverage needed to protect your assets.
Workers Compensation - Whether it's an employee, a 1099 contractor or someone you are paying in cash (shhh) having Workers Compensation coverage is important and often required. Work related injuries are serious and can quickly cause you financial headaches if you don't have the proper protections in place. This coverage protects the people assisting you by covering their medical and work loss exposures in the event they are hurt on the job. The key factors in determining the premium for coverage are job classification and payroll/subcontractor costs. It's important to provide accurate figures so you don't get a surprise at the end of the policy term.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE TO CONSIDER
Basic coverage is important but here are a few other options that can help:
Loss of Business Income - If your workspace is destroyed preventing you from working. Rental Equipment - Renting a lift for a mural? Life Insurance - Life happens and protecting the people that depend on you is an important part of any successful financial plan.
Many insurance companies offer these coverage options as a package deal resulting in lower rates compared to individual policies. They are often called a "Business Owners Policy" or "Commercial Package Policy". The "bundle” is put together specifically for the type of art operation you perform. You can also get additional savings if you have your home, auto, life and other personal protections with the same company.
SHORT TERM/SPECIAL EVENT COVERAGE
There may be times when you need coverage for a specific or short term event. I once insured a muralist who got a job in California painting a lighthouse and only needed coverage for a few months. His standard policy wouldn't extend to this particular job. Some carriers will offer job specific coverage which can be useful in a situation like this. However, the premiums associated with short term policies are often the same or more than a full annual policy. If you come across an opportunity like this just make sure to include the additional cost in your estimate.
WHERE TO FIND INSURANCE
Most insurance companies will offer a business option. Underwriting will make the determination on what classification best fits your operation. For example, many mural artists fall under the “Exterior Painting" classification. A chalk artist typically will fall under the classification of "Crafting". Actual terms vary from state to state and company to company. A few companies that I've worked with specifically for art related professionals include:
For unique art related operations or if you can't find a standard carrier willing to accept your art business as a risk, here is a list of companies that I've found some success with. These are accessible through a broker or your insurance agent may have access to them as well:
No one likes paying insurance premiums and more often than not you won't experience an issue that requires coverage to protect you. But, I know firsthand as an agent that things happen and insurance is key to protecting your financial future. When you are looking for coverage make sure to shop around a bit. There are lots of options available for artists of all types. Some insurance companies are more accepting or even seek out artist risks while others have no appetite for the industry and will charge more. Be truthful when providing information to the insurance company. There is nothing more frustrating than finding out you don't have coverage when something happens because you didn't report the full scope of your art business.
Best of luck to you in your art endeavors and I look forward to seeing you on the road!
Chalk Artist | Ann Arbor, Michigan
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