I’m an insurance claims investigator, and I’ve spent much of the last 20 years or more dealing with claims involving an element of public liability, including motor, household and trade.
Insurance - liability insurance in particular - is a field rich in myth and legend. Most of what you hear isn’t true.
Firstly, if you are pretty sensible, the risk of a claim being made against you is almost negligible. For you to be successfully sued under English law, you need a whole series of things:
- An incident has to happen in the first place.
- Someone has to suffer an injury or loss worth making a fuss about.
- They have to be the sort of person who makes the effort to sue you. (Not as common as the popular press would have you believe.)
- They have to show to the satisfaction of a court that the accident or loss was the result of your negligence or breach of statutory duty.
- Then they have to show to the satisfaction of a court that their financial loss, or entitlement to compensation arose from the accident.
- You are entitled to argue that they were partly to blame either for the accident or for part of the loss.
- You are entitled to argue that the accident was partly or wholly the fault of someone else such as the event organiser, or the owner of the premises.
So, don’t go through life being worried about being sued.
That said, most people organising events will expect performers to have some form of Public Liability insurance. This is the insurance which is there to deal with any claim made by a member of the public who has been injured or had property lost or damaged as a result of an incident.
If you are performing in your own right and as a private individual, not charging (e.g. a one-off display at a local fete) then you will almost certainly be insured under the Family and Occupier’s Liability Section of your household contents insurance.
If you are performing as part of a troupe or band, and/or charging, then you may well need a special Public Liability policy.
Because the risk is so small (almost negligible, in fact) the premium ought to be very small indeed. However, insurers tend to overcharge for anything a little bit unusual, partly to cover the additional admin, and partly because they have little experience of the actual risks presented by an unusual activity, and play safe. Insurance is all about probability and statistics; without data, it is impossible for them to assess the risk.
If you already have a connection with an insurer - especially a household insurer - it might be a good idea to start with them. Most insurers are reluctant to offer cover for unusual risks to people who don’t already have core business with them.
Failing that, you could buy a copy of The Stage, a weekly newspaper for the performing public, which may well have details of specialist brokers and agents.
On matters of general insurance advice, I’m always willing to answer genuine questions. You can PM me.