By Brian Rogers
Director of Operations and “Insurance Guru”
Dance Theater Workshop
Article prepared for artists working with Dance Theater Workshop in NY, NY.
Welcome! For those of you planning a performance event in one of DTW’s public spaces, here is a simple breakdown of the rules as they relate to insurance – what types of insurance you are required to have; how much it will cost; and where you can go to get it. Keep in mind that these requirements are not DTW-specific; rather, they are basic legal requirements for all employers in the state in NY. And government funders like NYSCA and DCA require it as well.
The best/easiest way to acquire the insurance you’ll need is to contact a reputable broker. There are actually very few brokers covering the entertainment market in NY State, so the process won’t be as difficult as it seems. Two of the more popular brokers are Dewitt Stern (www.dewittstern.com) and C&S (csins.com). A good broker will help to walk you through the process; and will handle a good deal of the leg work on your behalf.
Let’s begin with the insurance coverage that you’ll absolutely need to have:
Liability Insurance – All businesses, whether they be corporations or single artists like many of you, are required to have liability insurance (minimum coverage $1,000,000). This insurance protects you (and the spaces in which you work) against lawsuits from the public resulting in accidents, injuries, insults etc. Note: this insurance does NOT cover you or your employees. For most of you, the least expensive way to comply with this requirement is to buy into DTW’s TULIP plan (Tenant User Liability Insurance Plan), which will cover your activities inside DTW’s facilities during your production period. Those of you who perform more frequently, or who have your own rehearsal spaces, may want to consider getting this insurance year-round. The two best-know NY-area brokers specializing in the artist are Dewitt Stern (www.dewittstern.com) and C&S (csins.com). Year-round liability insurance will run you anywhere from $2,000 - $3,000 per year, depending on your activities (those of you with permanent spaces may wind up paying as much as $5k/year). Conversely, it will cost you $200 for a single artist run and $100 per artist for a shared program to buy into out TULIP plan; so most of you will probably opt to join our policy rather than acquire your own. You should signify your intention to join our policy when you sign your performance contract. Additionally, you will need to fill out the TULIP Event Application form enclosed (fill out 1-9 only and sign) and return this with your contract.
Workers Compensation Insurance – All employers, large & small, are required to provide workers comp insurance for their employees. Workers comp covers workplace accidents and injuries for you performers, collaborators, and technical staff. There are few common misconceptions regarding this insurance. Many if not most of you pay your performers and staff as independent contractors, and issue 1099s. But technically, it is illegal to classify performers as independent contractors (this is stated very clearly, for example, in NYSCA and DCA guidelines). And: independent contractors are required to provide this insurance for themselves. Most, however, don’t comply. Here’s the rub: if your independent contractors do not get workers comp coverage for themselves, you are legally required to get it for them. The cheapest/easiest place to get workers compensation insurance for your employees and independent contractors is the NY State Insurance Fund (nysif.com). If you are based outside of NY State, you will need to acquire this insurance from the state in which you live. The process is relatively painless. Premiums are based on the size of your annual payroll. For smaller artists, this insurance could cost approximately $800 – 900 per year. Remember, as an artist receiving a performance fee from DTW, you are required to get this insurance for YOURSELF as well as for your employees. Those of you coming to DTW from abroad should contact me directly…the process is a bit more complex. For those of you who work entirely with volunteers, you won’t need workers comp insurance... but you WILL need:
Volunteer Accident Medical Insurance – This is basically workers comp insurance for volunteers; costs is generally $500 – 600 dollars per year, and you can get it from either of the brokers mentioned above. A recommendation – workers comp coverage is actually much more extensive than that provided by Volunteer Accident Medical. If your dancer is injured, for example, he/she will be much better off if covered by workers comp. And because the annual premiums are actually similar in many cases, it may make sense for you to pay a small stipend and workers comp.
For the larger groups among you, there are a few additional insurance coverages that aren’t required but are highly recommended (as any good broker will attest). Combined, these additional coverages will run you $2,000 - $3,000/yr. A few details:
Directors & Officers Liability Insurance – Those of you with functioning boards should consider getting Directors & Officers insurance. This insurance protects you and your Board members against liability. Those of you with rehearsal and/or performance spaces should definitely have it, because: if you don’t have this insurance, and your company is sued for any reason, your personal assets, and those of your Board members, are vulnerable. And because the performing arts are a high risk industry, every respectable insurance broker will more or less require you to have it. And finally:
Umbrella Coverage – For larger groups with higher-profile gigs, $1 million of liability coverage is insufficient; most brokers will recommend that your augment this policy with and additional $1 million of coverage.
Back to Resources