Where to find insurance for a music booking agent?
May 27, 2010 7:38 AM   Subscribe

I'm a music booking agent. I need liability insurance... Why can't I find it anywhere?

I recently started a music booking agency (restarted actually, I operated a small, unofficial booking agency for friends and such for about 4 years). The bulk of the business comes from weddings, parties, corporate events, etc though I have an eye toward booking/organizing clubs and tours. Most of the groups are bands, djs, or acoustic (string quartets, singers, etc) instrumentalists.

We are an LLC, the musicians are all independent contractors. Musicians generally have insurance on instruments, equipment, etc. but following the club fire up in Connecticut a few years ago, many venues are requesting that I have 1,000,000 dollars of liability insurance as the booking agent.

After spending weeks calling the normal insurance places (State Farm, etc) and googling like crazy, I've found one insurance agency, CSI Insurance that can provide what I need, but they just can't seem to get their act together and return a phone call (called and talked to multiple secretaries, left multiple voice mails, no return calls after 4 weeks of this). Frankly, I'm hoping there is another agency that might be able to cover me at this point, given the fact that I'm basically having to beg them to be able to give them my money.

There's no union or professional organization for music booking agencies as far as I can find... I'm a member of the musicians union myself, but their insurance is not liability coverage, more instrument and equipment coverage.

Please help! I really want to start getting the website out there and finding more clients, but I don't want to get wiped out if something happens, and it feels irresponsible to start booking on a large scale without insurance.

Thank you!
posted by vilolagrl to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps a lead - we are a theater, and we got our liability insurance through a local guy who went through Philadelphia Insurance.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:50 AM on May 27, 2010

Why wouldn't State Farm cover you? They were more than willing to help me out with liability insurance, and I'm an IT consultant that deals with things that are at least a few magnitudes more expensive and more liable to self-destruct in extremely expensive ways.

You probably do need to find a *business* insurance agency as opposed to a consumer/home insurance agency.
posted by SpecialK at 7:52 AM on May 27, 2010

Fireman's Fund.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 7:59 AM on May 27, 2010

I think your problem is that "the normal insurance places" are mostly personal lines agents/brokers. What you need is a commercial lines agent/broker. These guys don't advertise in the same way or to the same extent as personal lines agents, so if you're new to business, they can be hard to find initially. While some agents do both kinds of business, it's quite common for them to only do one or the other.

You could take a look here and see what you can come up with. That'll put you in touch with the big boys generally, but you may find that the exposure you're looking to cover is a little different than they're used to writing. As such, a specialty carrier like this one might be better able to do what you need. Their tour insurance seems pretty close to what you're looking for.

But commercial insurance is kind of a Big Deal, and unlike your personal auto policy, this probably isn't something you're going to be able to adequately consider without expert input. My suggestion? Get your local yellow pages and look for insurance agents that sell commercial insurance. Don't be surprised if you've never heard of the companies they represent; some commercial lines carriers don't have personal lines at all, e.g. Zurich, CNA, and others, like Chubb, write far more commercial business than personal. Start calling agents and describe the nature of your activities. They'll know how to help you from there.

I don't recommend any of those links or companies as such; they're just examples.
posted by valkyryn at 8:01 AM on May 27, 2010

Events manager in NYC here. We've had a few TV/film location crews come through here who use Great Divide. Don't know if they work with people in your situation but I suppose asking for a free quote can't hurt. They seem to operate pretty much nationwide.
posted by bcwinters at 8:04 AM on May 27, 2010

$1,000,000 is barely a drop in the bucket. The total damages paid out in the Station Fire were in excess of $175 million.
posted by schmod at 8:07 AM on May 27, 2010

You should be able to get liability insurance through any insurance company that insures businesses. Chances are if they insure autos they also do businesses. I don't think you're looking for music booking agency insurance (not sure there is such a thing), but business liability insurance. I don't even you can get a policy for less coverage than $1,000,000.

I know Hartford and Commerce have liability policies. I'm sure Liberty Mutual and others do also. Do you have auto insurance? Can you ask your agent?
posted by eatcake at 10:20 AM on May 27, 2010

From Ms. Vegetable: Seconding Fireman's Fund. They are known in the industry for being able to cover practically anything you could need.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:05 PM on May 27, 2010

You might try calling Markel. They sort of specialize in odd niche markets.
posted by spilon at 1:42 PM on May 27, 2010

$1,000,000 is barely a drop in the bucket

True, but it's also the standard basic commercial liability policy. I work for a commercial insurance carrier, and the vast majority of our policies have a $1 million limit.

There are really two main reasons that damages in the Station case were so high. First, a bunch of people died. Wrongful death claims are almost always expensife. Second, there were a bunch of really big corporations in play. Clear Channel? Anheuser-Busch? The freaking state of Rhode Island? Yeah, $1 million limits don't even come close to what operators on that scale are likely to need. But most small businesses don't have exposures which are terribly likely to involve damages in excess of a million or two. A small photography business certainly doesn't.

Talk to a licensed agent before you make any decisions, but seriously, a $1 million CGL policiy is probably fine.
posted by valkyryn at 1:30 PM on May 28, 2010

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