Back in June, I wrote a column entitled "8 Essential Tips for Keeping Your Gear Safe While on Tour (From Musicians Who Learned the Hard Way)." It closed with a bonus tip noting every artist should have gear insurance. This sparked a number of replies from artists who didn’t know about gear insurance, and those who did know about it had a lot of questions.
With this in mind, I caught up with Laura Donelan, Assistant Vice President, Business Development Leader at MusicPro Insurance, to learn about the basics of gear insurance and get the answers every musician needs.
For artists who may be unaware, please give us the CliffsNotes version of what gear insurance is.
Instrument and equipment insurance is specialized coverage, specifically designed to address the needs of music professionals. Many people are unaware that this type of insurance is available at an affordable cost, or are under the mistaken impression that they are protected by a homeowner’s or renter’s policy.
How much does the cost of gear insurance vary depending on the make, model, and quality of the instrument?
When dealing with MusicPro Insurance, clients provide an itemized list of the gear to be insured. Premiums are then based on the total value and classification of the gear. Clients should estimate as best they can what everything is currently worth today, whether that’s more or less than the original purchase price. The cost of insurance is then automatically calculated.
Every time musicians buy new instruments, do they also need to re-buy insurance, or can they add the instrument onto their current plan?
Our website was designed for clients to be able to manage and maintain the list of insured items as needed, at any time. The site will calculate any change in premium (prorated to the end of the policy term), and either charge or credit the card on file as necessary.
For an indie act looking to put their budget together, how much would you recommend they set aside for gear insurance?
I would say approximately 1.25 percent of the total value of the gear should be budgeted for insurance. For example, if a band has $20,000 worth of instruments and equipment, then the annual premium would be about $250. At MusicPro, our minimum premium is $150 a year, which insures up to $12,000 worth of standard instruments and equipment.
Is theft the main thing gear insurance covers, or are there other aspects of insuring instruments?
While theft is the type of loss we see most often – vans and trailers go missing all the time – we also cover accidental breakage. That could be, “Oops, I dropped it,” someone spilling beer on a pedalboard at a show, or even damage incurred in a car accident.
Our policy provides worldwide coverage for losses such as fire, vandalism, theft, accidental breakage, water/flood damage, and earthquake damage. This includes coverage while in transit, or in a locked vehicle overnight (can’t expect people to unload every time they stop for the night), as well as loss or damage during air travel.
So the rocker who smashes his guitar onstage just has to buy a new one himself, right?
Um, yeah, intentional damage wouldn’t be covered. [laughs]
How long does it usually take to go from an insurance claim for a stolen instrument, to having the claim resolved, to a new instrument in hand?
The time frame for any given claim is always fact specific. Timing can depend on how long it takes to get a police report (in the event of a theft), or a written estimate for repairs (in the event of damage caused by an accident). Sometimes people just aren’t able to get the paperwork together until they’ve returned home from a tour. Nonetheless, our target timing is to wrap up claims, with a check in the mail, within 24 to 48 hours.
Adam Bernard is a music industry veteran who has been working in media since 2000. If you live in the NYC area, you've probably seen him at a show. He prefers his venues intimate, his whiskey on the rocks, and his baseball played without the DH. Follow him at @adamsworldblog.