What is Musician Public Liability Insurance?

Matthew Brodsky

For the musicians, their managers, promoters, and the owners and operators of the venue, a live act can create the potential for liability from issues including security, crowd injuries, weather losses, and event cancellations. One way for musicians to protect themselves from these risks is with musician public liability insurance. Musician public liability insurance can pay for financial losses and pay the damages if a musician is successfully sued.

Most major touring acts have musician public liability insurance, in addition to the insurance carried by the venues where they play.
Most major touring acts have musician public liability insurance, in addition to the insurance carried by the venues where they play.

Other forms of insurance provide some protection. General liability insurance for the venue, for example, could be taken out to protect the concert organizer or the venue's management from third-party claims. For example, if a someone attending a concert slips and falls during the performance and then sues all of the people involved in the concert, a general liability insurance policy might cover the musician.

Outdoor concerts may be cancelled due to impending weather conditions.
Outdoor concerts may be cancelled due to impending weather conditions.

Musician public liability insurance, on the other hand, is designed specifically for musicians. It provides financial assurances against unforeseen lawsuits. These insurance policies, for instance, can be crafted to protect the musician from liability if a speaker falls into the crowd and injures one of the people attending the concert. In general, the insurance policy protects against any harm that the musicians cause a third party, whether on purpose or by accident.

For bands and other stakeholders to determine if they require musician public liability insurance, the first step might be contact their insurance brokers or agents. These insurance professionals know what insurance coverage is already in place and whether such coverage will be worth the extra expense. Brokers and agents can also help calculate how much insurance is needed. Attorneys might be consulted to determine what kinds of liabilities may arise and whether a musician would be covered by a particular contract of insurance.

If musician public liability insurance is necessary, the musician should shop around for cost-effective and affordable coverage. He should look for a strong insurance company with a good reputation and the financial wherewithal to deal with a musician public liability insurance claim if one should arise. Otherwise, the musician could get sued, make a claim against the policy, and discover that the insurance company is insolvent or refuses to pay. Other considerations in buying the insurance include whether it covers only one musicians or an entire band and whether the coverage extends internationally. If the insurance only covers individuals, then every member of a band would need to buy his own coverages.

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Discussion Comments


Maybe I just got lucky, but I never carried musician public liability insurance when I was a semi-professional keyboardist back in the day. I just assumed our manager or the venue handled that sort of thing, and I wasn't earning enough money to pay my rent, let alone pay the premiums on personal liability insurance. Looking back on it now, I can see why musicians who stay on the road would want this kind of protection, though.


I used to work at a local deli/bar that hired bands every weekend. We wouldn't even allow them to set up unless their manager showed us evidence of at least general liability insurance. I'd say about half of the musicians I talked to had their own musician public liability insurance, too. It only takes one bar fight or slip on the dance floor to take away all of the band's profits for that night, and last-minute cancellations happened all the time.

When I helped work a show, I tried to minimize the risks to the band as much as I could. I would personally take away as many empty beer bottles as I could find, because they sometimes became ammunition. If someone spilled a drink on the dance floor, it got mopped up right away. We would also have a meeting with the band to discuss potential problems, like speakers positioned too close to the dance floor and the club's policy on performing while intoxicated.

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