This is a resource with information regarding liability, event, and business insurance for artists. See below for a short description of each type of insurance. There are countless different coverage plans and insurance types, so please be sure to do adequate research of the unique coverage that your chosen insurer provides.
Please consult an insurance professional before making any decisions! The information on this web site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional advice. All content contained on or available below is for general information purposes only based upon the information available at the time of presentation, and does not constitute medical, legal, regulatory, compliance, financial, professional, or any other advice.
Springboard for the Arts makes no representation and assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy of information contained on or available through this web site, and such information is subject to change without notice. You are encouraged to consider and confirm any information obtained from or through this website with other sources.
The basics of liability, event and business insurance
The guidelines below are based on inquiries we’ve received over the years. Below each situation, we’ve included some terminology and approaches that might be helpful as you consider your options.
However, an important thing to keep in mind is that it’s rarely cost-effective to cherry pick your insurance. If you’re in business as an artist or arts group, working with an agent to help you assemble an annual policy may be the best way to go, in order to cover as many of these scenarios as possible for the best price. There are a few foundational policies, and you and your agent will figure out which types of additional coverage you may want or need.
Typically, a broker or agent may recommend one of the following to you:
Business Owners Policy (BOP)
A business owner policy (BOP) combines protection for all major property and liability risks in one insurance package. This type of policy assembles the basic coverages required by a business owner in one bundle. As with many of these types of policies, it is usually sold at a premium that is less than the total cost of the individual coverages.
Commercial Package Policy (CPP)
A Commercial Package Policy (or CPP) is a customized package composed of two or more business insurance coverages "bundled" from a single insurance provider. This policy allows a wider range of coverages and limits, allowing a business additional flexibility in tailoring their coverage to its specific needs.
Below are a range of scenarios where you may need insurance coverage.
Insurance for short-term events where you’ll be selling art, performing or creating artwork onsite.
You can buy one-time short-term “special events policies” (which is typically a general liability policy) from a number of sources. These policies will typically cover you, some of your materials and anyone attending. It may be required by the venue or organizer of the event, as well. If you’re a solo artist or small group not incorporated as a business or nonprofit organization, a short-term special events policy may be worthwhile.
Event insurance will protect artists that are hosting festivals or events and provides coverage for circumstances with legal responsibility for injury to someone, damage to leased or rented property, weather insurance, volunteer accident coverage, event cancellation coverage, and much more. Many of the providers listed in the above two categories will assist with event insurance.
That said, special event policy can be expensive and not necessarily the most useful or cost-effective tool, especially if you’re presenting events more than once a year. If your business is organized as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), it may be worth it to consider a Business Owners Policy, which will often include coverage for special events. There will be an annual fee you pay for this coverage, bundled with the rest of your policy.
Check with your broker if this bundle would also protect you or artists that you’re working with as you create a piece of public art onsite.
Insurance for your private studio, rehearsal space or office, and all of the materials and artwork you have in there.
You may need property insurance. This will cover all of the tools, equipment and artwork you have in the space. It will not, however, cover any artwork once it leaves the space, your equipment if it’s out onsite for a commission, or any liability for visitors, should they injure themselves while on your property.
If your studio is located where you live – in a basement, attic, garage, detached building or home office – this could potentially be added to renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, which you may already have. If you have a broker you’re happy with for one of those, ask them about adding a policy for your studio.
This type of insurance is often bundled in Business Owners Policy (BOP) or a Commercial Package Policy (CPP).
Insurance for your private studio, rehearsal space or office, where you receive visitors, students or potential clients.
In addition to any property insurance, you may need general liability insurance, as well. Most often, liability insurance covers injuries (if someone is injured while on your property, if your property causes damage to others, if your product injures someone, etc.).
This type of insurance is also often bundled in Business Owners Policy (BOP) or a Commercial Package Policy (CPP).
Insurance for your tools and other materials that you take with you to an installation or exhibition.
As noted above, property insurance only covers materials at the insured located – your studio, for example. To cover tools and other materials that aren’t either a vehicle or part of a structure, you might want to consider Business Personal Property coverage. The important thing to keep in mind here is that you’d need to be working at an insured location, or else the Business Personal Property coverage would not be in effect. Make sure if you’re working onsite it’s covered by the commissioning site’s insurance, or you have a policy for covering the site.
Insurance for art fairs where you regularly sell products or artwork, several times a year.
As part of a standard commercial general liability policy, you could consider adding Damage to Premises Rented. This covers damage by fire to premises rented to you, as well as any damage regardless of cause to the premises (including contents) occupied by you for less than seven days.
Insurance for a piece of artwork you are shipping or transporting between your studio and an exhibition venue.
If you purchase property insurance, you may already be covered. Additionally, once the goods are in the care, custody and control of someone else (say the gallery receiving the work, or the shipper), that party is responsible for covering it. Many shippers, such as UPS, offer insurance for goods being transported, though it may max out at a relatively small amount of money, like $400. Shippers specializing in transporting artwork will often provide insurance coverage for materials they handle, as well.
However, in some cases you may need what is known as inland marine insurance added to your policy.
Inland marine is typically purchased when you need to protect high-value property, such as photography equipment, electronics or artwork. Typically these will also be goods is shipped frequently from site to site, whether galleries, museums or art fairs, by you personally.
An important thing to consider when looking at inland marine insurance as it relates to your artwork is to carefully inventory everything in your studio, including dates created, the value of the artwork, and other pieces of critical information about the work. What may be an self-evidently valuable piece of artwork in the eye of a curator, dealer or appraiser may look quite different to an insurance adjuster. (“Is this sculpture really worth $15,000? My kid could make that.”)
Additionally, any shipping companies – particularly those that ship art professionally will typically ask to see images of the pack job before the artwork is sealed. It’s important for the insurer to know the artwork was packed properly before it’s shipped.
Some other insurance resources
Liability insurance protects the insured from a wide range of risks and liabilities, depending on which insurance policy the purchaser is seeking. Most often, liability insurance covers injuries (if someone is injured while on your property, if your property causes damage to others, if your product injures someone, etc.).
ACT Insurance (Artists, Crafters, & Tradesmen) provides short and long-term liability in the form of show (general liability) and annual (general and product liability) insurance packages.
Arts Insurance Now is a broker providing policies that are tailored to cover works of art while on or off premises, in transit, storage, in an exhibition, in a museum, auction house, and worldwide.
CODAworx Commission Artist General Liability Insurance Program covers commission artists for certain liability claims which arise out of the installation of commissioned artwork on-site. Protection provides coverage for accidents like slips and falls, destruction of third-party property, and accidents that cause injury to others. Note: CODAworx is ending their insurance programs for public art.
Zinc Insurance for Artists offers a master policy which extends liability insurance at your home or studio premises and at exhibition sites. Further, it provides full product liability coverage for items you have sold.
PEEP Insurance, Inc. specializes in insuring entertainers such as DJs, bands, hypnotists, specialty entertainers and event professionals.
Minnesota Theater Alliance also provides a group insurance policy program for Minnesota nonprofit performing arts organizations in partnership with Bremer Insurance.
Nonprofits Insurance Alliance is a group of 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt insurers whose purpose is to serve 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organizations by providing a stable source of reasonably priced liability insurance tailored to the specialized needs of the nonprofit sector and to assist these organizations to develop and implement successful loss control and risk management programs.
Fractured Atlas offers free Pocket Guides on insurance information for specific disciplines. Pocket Guides areas include Teaching Artists, Theatre, Public Art, Visual Art, Craft Art, Film, Music, Dance and Dance Companies, Opera, and Health Insurance guides. Fractured Atlas ended their insurance programs in 2019, but the Pocket Guides remain online and are still an excellent resource.
Beyond liability insurance, business insurance refers to the many different aspects of running a business that need to be protected. This ranges from building insurance to employee dishonesty insurance to business interruption insurance, and many more risk management factors. CERF+ and Studio Protector provides a very good overview of the basics, as well as a comprehensive list of business insurance providers that work with artists and arts organizations.