Music Business

The Importance of Insurance for Musicians

Lots can happen unexpectedly as a traveling musician; from equipment to vehicles to health, there’s plenty of bases to cover.

by CHRIS CASTLE of Music Tech Policy

Car theft is up again according to Market Watch:

By the time you’ve finished reading this article, nearly 20 cars will be stolen nationwide: Indeed, a motor vehicle is stolen every 32 seconds in the U.S., as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The number of vehicle thefts has increased significantly in recent years, leaving many car owners wondering how to protect their vehicles — even in this technologically advanced era. 

After reviewing new data regarding car thefts in the past few years, we at the MarketWatch Guides team share our findings about the most recent auto theft trends. This includes everything from the real-world implications of a viral TikTok auto theft craze to advice on how you can keep car thieves from targeting your vehicle…. 

The nation saw a steady increase of around 25% in motor vehicle thefts from 2019 to 2022, with the total number of annual thefts breaking 1 million in 2022. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), those numbers didn’t show signs of decreasing in 2023, as nearly 500,000 vehicles were stolen in the first six months alone.

When looking at auto theft trends by state in the first half of 2023, Illinois represented the most significant increase, up 38% from 2022. New York’s auto theft rates rose 20% in the same time, while Ohio’s increased by around 15%.

In fact, auto theft is so bad that cities like Baltimore are handing out free wheel locks. Wheel locks also help protect against attempted auto theft which has its own problems.

The problem for bands is that the goal of the thief is often the instrument trailer attached to the car being stolen. If the stolen car has Mom’s auto policy, it probably won’t cover the instruments in the trailer, especially rare or unusually expensive gear owned by multiple band members who may not be “named insureds”.

Many bands overlook the importance of insurance, often until it is too late. Relatively speaking, instrument insurance is available at relatively modest cost but a lot of musicians blow it off without even getting a quote because they assume they can’t afford it. Even if you don’t overlook it, many artists don’t fully understand why any coverage they do have may be lacking. 

You should consider adding an insurance agent to your business team. This is particularly true if you perform live frequently and is crucial for touring artists. I know this is one more mouth to feed, which can be frustrating. But it is a very good idea for the band to meet with an insurance agent experienced in music industry insurance and get a report from that agent about the coverage the band has (if any) compared to what the agent recommends. 

Insurance comes in two flavors at a high level: protecting your assets (like instruments and vehicles) from loss and protecting you from liability claims especially in an accident situation. You also want a commercial auto policy if you have a bus, van or car owned by the band or routinely used by the band. Example: Band is on the bus for an overnight drive to the next show and while everyone but the driver was fast asleep, an 18 wheeler lost control on a downhill stretch and plowed into the instrument trailer and then into the back of the bus. Instruments were destroyed, a passenger on the bus was injured and the band suffered cuts and bruises. Nobody died, thank God, but–it was close. 

Fortunately, the trucker had plenty of insurance, but the band was able to get new instruments and take everyone to the ER on their insurance. The carriers fought it out later on “subrogation” where your insurance seeks reimbursement from the other guy’s insurance, but that night everybody knew they were good and the band was able to make the next night’s show while the tour manager hunted down another bus to rent and a bus tow back to home base for repairs.

Now imagine if the band had Mom’s auto policy and nothing else. Good luck with that one. Also, sometimes people die. When you let a guest onto the bus overnight, think about that. It kind of destroys the romance, but it’s a fact.

Another liability limitation is the touring company LLC, so talk to your business manager about that. In the early days, the band may not have sufficient monies to both get insurance and set up limited liability entities. We always recommend insurance in this case. At a minimum, the band should have commercial insurance on your van and sufficient coverage to protect against loss or damage to the band’s musical instruments. If feasible, the band should also seek general entertainer liability insurance, which is an umbrella policy that covers artists above and beyond the typical automobile insurance and other common coverages. (Tip: Watch out–no pun intended–for exclusions for thrown objects.)

We refer to MusicPro Insurance ( which is a leading insurance broker in covering bands but there are others you can find.

Please, please, please make sure you have at least your instruments insured. When a band loses their gear without insurance, it’s almost like having your house burn down without insurance. Not quite as bad, but close. Coulda, shoulda, woulda never tasted so bad.

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