Are You Covered? Talking Insurance for Artists By Jeannette Froese LeBlanc

index1So as Monday’s go, today has pretty well lived up to the reputation of a Monday.  I innocently called the insurance company we’ve been with for 16 years about insurance needed for a craft show….and after an hour’s worth of questions about the shingles on our roof and the equipment I had in my studio…(I have a sewing machine, a sander/grinder and a 5 amp kiln)…my home insurance coverage was cancelled.  Awesome.  Why put me though all those questions only to cancel my policy? Was she just curious?  Maybe the agent I was on the phone with wanted to start her own home jewellery making business?

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Sample of one of the pieces of equipment used in my “manufacturing business”.

I’m sharing my story as it may serve as a reminder to check into your own insurance coverage.  Asking about coverage for a show–a show I may or may not get into–led me down the worm hole of studio insurance.

In retrospect, the questions I consider to be quite silly about my “manufacturing equipment” have made me realize that I was not insured by the right company.  We assumed going with a company that bore the same name as our bank, meant that it was part of the bank.  I’ve since learned that it is a company “associated” with my bank.  And while we saved money going with a large insurance company, we were a number and they were unknown to us.

The “new” local insurance broker I called in a panic, was at our house within an hour to measure the house and take photos.  He is friends with people we know and he was not fazed out by all my art “stuff”.  So while my husband is “not amused” to pay more for insurance, I feel like we may have averted disaster.  If something happens (knock wood) I feel much more confident that the local agent, (whose insurance brokerage bears his own last name) is actually going to come out and help us. The agent who needed me to spell out the names of the equipment used in my “commercial manufacturing” business, may not have really understood what I was doing and therefore should something have happened, we may not have been covered.

maxresdefaultQuestions asked by my insurer that led to my insurance policy being cancelled: (Learn from my mistakes!)
Equipment: Apparently underwriters are totally wigged out by the word “KILN”.  I have used kilns for 25 years and I have never once seen one “spontaneously catch fire”.  I have seen pizza cooked in a walk-in, high-fire, gas, pottery kiln while I was at university…and still no fire in the kiln, but I kept that story to myself. The underwriter wanted to know if there was some sort of fire prevention system in place in case it did catch fire.  The agent didn’t like my answer that I have a fire extinguisher in my studio.  They wanted overhead, temperature sensing, automatically released foam…. So when I talked to the new agent, I had the kiln specs handy and was able to easily give details about size, max temperature and mention safety features.
Also under equipment: A grinder seemed to rings some bells…I don’t know why.  Maybe they make sparks? The word “polisher” seems like a better term to use, and more appropriate to what I’m doing.
“Raw Materials”: To the first agent buying something and then doing something to it–i.e. buying metal clay, silver wire and making earrings=manufacturing.  Yup.  I am a “manufacturer” in the eyes of the insurance underwriter.  While I’m pretty miffed–I do have an urge to order more business cards and add that to my byline. A better term to use might be “Assembling”. I also didn’t agree with the first agent calling my supplies “raw materials”.  I would think those who made the metal clay or silver wire worked with raw materials.
Alarms and Support Systems: A barking beagle does not qualify as a “monitored” burglar alarm.  I knew that already…but I had to offer it as an answer when the new insurance agent was looking for ways to reduce my premiums.  As for “support systems” I’m not sure what that is… like group therapy?  A girdle?
Square footage used for “Business”:  With the first agent I totally eyeballed and guessed at what the square footage was for my studio work.  I work in a detached garage and have an office in the house. I made the mistake of assuming she meant “all” that I do and gave her the square footage of my studio and office which she deducted from our home’s size.  The second agent noted that working in my garage is totally different than working in the house and he actually measured our house and my studio.

4d6c6e32dc4ea20ce905f79dedba2fe7Ask what coverage you have to just to be sure that if something happened you really have insurance.  I still have to deal with my car insurance…as that is next on the hit list.  I was told that my personal car is used for “commercial purposes” as I will transport my packed online sales to the post-office and on occasion load up to go to a show.  But by that definition is my car not a “school bus” if I drive my kids to school? I can’t help but feel extremely discouraged.  Like big business is trying to shoulder out the little guy.  My insurance will cost more than I’ve made so far selling jewellery.

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Jeannette Froese LeBlanc is the editor at Cre8tiveFire.com and is also a jewellery “manufacturer”.

12 Responses to “Are You Covered? Talking Insurance for Artists By Jeannette Froese LeBlanc”

  1. Rhonda H.

    Jeanette great article. I have had business insurance for ten years that covers the home studios and when I’m at shows. I recommend that every artist get business insurance, you never know when you’re going to need it.

  2. I am engaged in similar activities as Jeannette and have similar equipment. So, her article is a real wake-up call for me. Jeannette, may I ask how much more you now have to pay for insurance?

    • Hi Ron, once I know what’s what I’ll be happy to add to my article. Right now I’m in limbo and researching and asking questions. Vocabulary seems to be key–using the right words at the right time. Jeannette

    • Okay, so can you tell me what were the red flags and how do I get what I need without looking like I’m doing more than I do? I.e. the first agent calling me a “manufacturer” and the need for commercial insurance on my home and vehicle…seems over the top. I was only calling about liability insurance–I haven’t even applied to the show yet!

  3. Nice piece with good info, thanks for sharing. However, you may want to fix ‘phased out by’ to ‘fazed by’ as ‘phased out’ means to remove incrementally over time instead of what you were trying to convey which, I assume, was ‘not disturbed by’.

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