Insurance for your Art - Invest in Yourself


With fingers crossed, art festivals around the country will be in person this year. It is now time to think of not only protecting yourself from the virus but protecting you business.


By carrying the right type of business insurance coverage, you can protect your supplies, projects, staff, clients - and your personal assets - from various liabilities and the financial devastation that could come along with them.


If you aren’t sure that your work is protected, then the answer is probably no or not enough. You need to invest in policies that include liability coverage as well as considerations such as theft, accidents, acts of God and damages to an artist's work or booth by others.


Be aware that your homeowner's policy most often does not cover your business even if your business is in your home. If you have a fire or flood, do not assume your homeowner's insurance will cover the tools and inventory associated with your business. In addition, you often need a specific rider to cover clients that come to your home. Your safest bet is to talk to your insurance representative and ask a series of "what if" questions. Be sure to read the fine print on your policy to understand exactly what is and isn't covered. You also need to consider events like workshops, residencies, open studios and commissions. Without insurance you can be held personally responsible if a person becomes injured or equipment is broken.


The work that each artist does is unique, so when it comes to determining what type of insurance coverage you need, there are a variety of factors that need to be taken into consideration; the specific type of art you create, the materials and supplies you work with, whether or not you employ a staff, where your studio is located, travel, etc...


However, there are some key forms of coverage that all artists should carry, including:

  • Commercial Property - This form of coverage protects the physical property that you use for your art business from certain perils, such as fire, flood, storm damage, vandalism, and theft, for example. It covers both the physical structure of your property, as well as the contents within it. For instance, if a pipe bursts and your studio, canvases, paints, brushes, wood floors, ceiling tiles, and anything else were damaged, instead of having to pay for the damages yourself, your insurance would foot the bill.

  • Commercial General Liability - This type of insurance protects you against any third-party injuries or property damage that may arise on your property or as a result of the services that you offer. If you and your staff ever damaged a client's property while installing a work of art or someone slipped on a puddle in your gallery or booth, commercial general liability insurance would cover the cost of the associated damages and medical care. It would also assist with any legal expenses, should a third-party file a lawsuit.

  • Workers' Compensation - If you employ a staff or you rely on volunteers, you'll also need to carry workers comp insurance. Should a volunteer or employee sustain an injury or become ill as a result of conditions within the workplace, your workers' comp policy would cover the cost of any necessary medical care. If the individual is unable to work while recovering, it would also partially reimburse missed wages. Should he or she file a lawsuit, workers' comp could also help to pay legal expenses.

Below is an overview of some specific policies you should consider when buying insurance for your art business. You should discuss these with your insurance agent.

Inventory and tool insurance: Do not assume the insurance policy that covers liability at an art show will also cover any damage to your booth or loss of inventory. Most policies will only cover liability should someone get hurt in your booth. If you want insurance that will cover tools, equipment and inventory damage or loss at a festival, you need a specific policy or rider that addresses that.

Business liability insurance versus business insurance: If you start looking into business insurance you will need fully understand the kind of policy being provided. "Business insurance" usually applies mostly to brick-and-mortar retail stores. Most artists don't fall under this category, so ensure that the policy specifically covers business liability for a traveling artist.

Does Your Car Insurance Cover Your Vehicle at a Show? In many cases, if you get in an accident on a way to or home from a show, your car insurance (depends on your policy) will cover damage and liability related to your car and to the other cars in the accident. These policies usually will not cover any damages to your product due to the accident. You need to have your vehicle licensed as a business vehicle and ensure you have a insurance to cover your products. Again, this is all about risk.

What about liability associated with my product? This is a liability claim arising from a faulty product or installation of art that results in injury or death. There is insurance available under "commercial package policy with general liability endorsed to cover products and completed operations" that will cover these types of situations.

The amount of coverage you need depends on a variety of factors, including:

Your art: Are you a member of an artists' association or guild? If you are a member of an artists' association, your membership dues may provide some kind of liability insurance protection. Even with a group policy, you may want additional coverage, or a policy that protects you as an individual.

How you work? Do you use subcontractors to install your art, or is it installed as you create it?

The material you work with: A granite sculpture can cause much more damage if toppled than a painting.

Your risk exposures: How often and how much do you and your art interact with others? Do you host workshops? Do you have large installation pieces in public spaces?

Every artist has unique circumstances that may require coverage. A great place to start is CERF - they have a page dedicated to artist insurance coverage. They have links to a couple public sources that will help you make informed decisions


My Tip From Experience: Take a photo of your tent/booth and display before the show starts. Insurance companies will want proof that you weighted your tent properly for an outdoor event and proof that you had the inventory you are claiming as a loss. Do your research and choose a company that has experience in insurance art.

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