As I have been working on opening Cloud 9 Art School (lifelong dream!), I’ve had the luxury of buying studio furniture, art supplies, art books, props for drawing and painting, all those things artists long to have! What a joy! I see some great prop or table and think…. should I get it?… and then I remember…. “it’s for the school!” and in the cart it goes!
There have also been those practical purchases which are not as fun but necessary. Rolls and rolls of paper towels, cleaning supplies, business cards. And insurance. These are adult things. The most adult thing of all: insurance. Not real motivating, right? Something you buy hoping to never use.
Yet, we have all heard the cautionary tales about someone who did not buy insurance and lost everything to an unforeseen event (cough cough Bothell’s fire on Main Street which burned down numerous businesses in 2016). So yes, if you have your own business, get that business insurance!
But what if you don’t own a business? What if you are an independent contractor, teaching at various locations; do you still need insurance?
As it turns out, yes, yes you do.
You need liability insurance. That’s what covers you from claims from one of your students getting hurt in your class or damaging property at a school where you are teaching. Yep, better get that.
Though it may not be something that you have considered as an independent teaching artist, general liability insurance is an important professional asset. While a school will likely have some resources at its disposal should a legal situation arise, for the individual teacher who is not an employee, there is little more than your savings account standing between you and an insurance claim.
So many professions require expensive certifications and licenses and legally also require individual liability insurance. Teaching artists don’t have the expenses of certifications or licenses. We have it good! Liability insurance costs about $400/year. That’s about $35/month. Set yourself up right.
Most schools and venues will not include you in their liability insurance coverage: most will require that you show a certificate of insurance with them listed as additional insured as proof of your own coverage. Even if no one is currently requesting that you carry this insurance, it is an incredibly valuable thing to have: spending $400 on a policy now is much better than a $400,000 claim in the future.
Carrying insurance will also open up your options for teaching in more places: you'll never have to say no to an opportunity again because of your lack of insurance coverage.
Many policies will not only cover you and your students. They will cover your art supplies, property, and sometimes even your artwork should anything get damaged or stolen.
Consult an insurance broker to determine what types of insurance you need. These may include:
Property: Covers fire and other loss to buildings, building contents, inventory and home-based businesses. Add-ons such as business interruption insurance can expand this coverage.
Liability: Covers bodily injury and property damage to others caused by accidents.
Motor Vehicle: Covers bodily injury and property damage resulting from the business use of your motor vehicles, such as if an employee drives a company van to make deliveries.
Umbrella Liability: Provides additional liability insurance above the limits in your basic automobile and general liability policies.
Worker’s Compensation: Covers injuries, death and loss of wages to workers injured on the job, including the owner, and protects you against employee lawsuits for damages.
Health: If you don’t have health insurance, you need to look into private health insurance options before going into business for yourself.
Life: Many business partners buy “key man” life insurance on the partners in the business. If one owner dies, the proceeds enable the surviving partners to buy his or her share from the heirs.
Be a professional. Get insurance. Then go back to shopping for the fun stuff!