This post focuses on ways to insure your equipment and protect yourself from liability.
I know insurance is probably the last thing on most people’s minds when they get into music production. Let’s face it, though… we have a lot of expensive stuff lying around and we, as businesses, open ourselves up to liability. The good thing is that insurance for musicians and producers isn’t very expensive and, for many, it makes a lot of sense. The two main areas of concern are equipment and liability. Gear insurance is insurance against damage, theft, and loss of equipment. Liability insurance is protection in case something goes wrong and you get sued. As with most things I discuss here, there are some good strategies for mitigating both risks.
Once you begin in amass a certain amount of equipment, particularly unique items, it becomes obvious that loss of these items directly impacts your ability to produce effectively. Whether you’re a guitarist on the road in a gigging band or a producer with a studio, theft, damage or loss means money and resources out the window. At the height of my gear owning days I had about $25,000 worth of stuff. This isn’t a lot as far as studios go, but it’s a lot of stuff for any one person to have personally. What I did when I decided to start insuring the equipment is I made a list of all my items worth over $100 and wrote down their serial numbers and approximate replacement value. When it was all said and done, I had a collection of information that I could use to describe the loss to the police, local music stores, and to the insurance companies should I get ripped off. This list can be invaluable.
I paid about $150 a year for full coverage of all that. This was after a discount I received for being a member of ASCAP. I don’t know what the current rate is for that kind of coverage, but that was a pretty excellent deal as far as I was concerned. To quote MusicPro Insurance…
What is covered is extremely broad. Fire and lightning, theft, vandalism, damage caused by vehicles or aircraft, windstorm, and accidental breakage are all covered perils. We have had incidents where someone has packed up after a performance and found items missing; this would be covered. A performer packs all of his equipment in a van and forgets to close the door and the equipment fell out. Upon returning to retrieve the items, some of the equipment was damaged and some items were missing; this would be covered. Equipment damaged at a performance site by contractors erecting scaffolding; this would be covered.
Wow. That’s a lot of situations that are covered. I’m not trying to sell you on this stuff but I was pretty happy that if I had an airhead moment and left something expensive in the bathroom I wouldn’t be out the money. Deductable was $100 per claim… so as long as the total loss for the event was over $100 it was worth it. My backpack routinely had a $2,000 laptop, $300 sound card, $150 keyboard, $300 headphones, and $1000 worth of software licenses. You do the math.
Liability is, for instance, if somebody trips on a mic cable and decides to sue you because it’s obviously your fault. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter if you win the case or not because legal fees for your defense can be ridiculous if they aren’t awarded. I haven’t ever owned my own studio space, so I can’t throw numbers around, but I imagine some limited liability coverage would be smart (particularly if you’re running your business as a proprietor for some reason… don’t do that!)
Insurance isn’t fun but it really doesn’t cost that much. I think it’s worth it, but I’m a Better-Safe-Than-Sorry kind of guy. Make the call on your own situation. I’m not going to go out of my way to advocate a particular provider. A simple Google search for “musical instrument insurance” and “recording studio insurance” or “business liability insurance” comes up with plenty of options. Do your own research on people’s experiences with the companies.