It seems to me that the only events that ask if I am insured are fairs, festivals, and corporate events. No one else ever asks me if I'm insured. Well this should be a huge selling point for anyone from birthday parties to performing on the Las Vegas strip. You see if an entertainer is not insured and someone at your event gets hurt during that performers show, this is a major problem for the client and the performer. Lets say for example that its a Kids Birthday Party and that you have hired a Juggler, and during the performance the juggler accidentally loses control of one of his/her juggling clubs and it breaks a lamp. No big deal the lamp can be replaced out of pocket and the juggler feels bad about the situation...unless it's an antique lamp that was handed down from past generations and has tremendous sentimental value. Plus did I mention that when that lamp fell over it also landed on a child sending her to the emergency room where she had to get 20 stitches and she was knocked unconscious? Well now this is an entirely different problem and something no one wants to worry about when hiring a performer to come into their home. But honestly this problem is only the beginning as those parents of that child are going to sue the performer and the homeowner and they will win! Now no one is saying here that the child's parents shouldn't sue...they should, as their child got hurt unjustly. But should the homeowner and the performer be personally responsible for an accident? Well...No, this is why it is absolutely crucial that all performers have liability insurance for their business.
For myself I have a 2 million dollar umbrella policy which also covers my equipment should something happen to it even if it were just driving to an event and I got into an auto accident. By the way this happened to me and I wasn't covered and I'll explain why.
So I assumed that my car insurance would cover my equipment should anything ever happen on the way to or from an event. However, I was wrong because my equipment is considered business property I would have to have a business policy with my car insurance company (OR) I would have to that equipment coverage thru my entertainment insurance company (I use specialty Insurance Agency).
So my scenario was that I had 3 insurance policies and I assumed I would be covered for my equipment no matter what happened and I was very wrong. You see I feel asleep behind the wheel after driving home at 3AM and working for 18 hours. I drifted off the road went down into a ditch popped up out of the ditch crossing an intersection hitting a stop sign while air born and landing in another ditch with the car on its side, luckily I was a sleep thru the entire thing. If I would have woken up I am certain I would have hit the brakes, or jerked the wheel which either of those would have caused the car to flip and I would have certainly died in the accident. But I walked away without a scratch, but my equipment did not...about $10,000 worth of magic gear all damaged.
Well my car was paid for, the property damage from the accident was paid for...but my equipment was not. And I tried reporting it to my renters insurance for my home, my car insurance, and my entertainment insurance for my business. But I was not covered and I was blown away by this! My business insurance thru Specialty Insurance was for a basic liability insurance for one million dollar umbrella policy. Which covered anyone getting hurt at one of my events, or damage to their property. However, it did not cover my equipment. This is chalked up to a major lesson learned for me and I now have the correct policy which I think everyone should have that is a professional entertainer.
Another important topic here which I will not go into too much depth on. I'll save that for another day, is becoming an LLC. so that you can not personally be sued, but rather only your business can be and the amount you can be sued for is only the amount that the business is worth, not how much you personally are worth (ie. your house, cars, jewelry, appliances, etc.)
I am by no means a lawyer and I don't offer any legal advice with what I have said, but I can tell you there is one person who knows a great deal about this topic, who I would consider my go to expert before I decide to get a lawyer. This would be a fellow magician and a good friend William Davenport. William is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to all things that have to do with CYA. (Cover Your A$$). I am sure he gets that from his time spent in the military fighting for our freedom in Afghanistan. I honestly have never met someone more prepared for a lawsuit than Davenport. He has given me some of the best advice to make sure that I am protected, for which I am grateful. But what I find amazing about the way he operates his business is how he books other performers like myself. I have been hired by hundreds of booking agents over the past 17 years, and I have signed thousands of contracts with those agents for their events. But I have never seen a contract like the one Davenport is using! His contract has one thing that just blew me away! He pays his performers a deposit...not only that but a NON-REFUNDABLE deposit that the performer gets to keep EVEN IF his client cancels the gig! He even pays this to the performer before the event takes place (that is showing a great deal of trust, how awesome is that?!?! So this makes up for any clients backing out and you losing out on any other clients that would have booked you. And Yes, this has happened to me and Davenport did hold true to his word on the contract!
Some other interesting components of Davenports contract is that he has a dollar amount that you will be required to pay Davenport's Company should you not show up for the gig, and it's thousands of dollars! Why is that you may ask? Well it covers for the loss of that event, plus any future events that client might have booked, plus damage to Davenports reputation, etc. And believe you me, he will take you to court and he will win if you violate this contract! This may seem a little scary for some performers, but honestly if this was common practice across the board with all talent agencies I would be a whole lot happier and I believe it would truly benefit everyone!
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
My Name is Aaron Clark and I'm know as The Amazing Ziggy. I've been a Professional Magician for over 20 years performing all over the US and internationally, but mostly for events on the east coast in the Atlanta Area.