What is Artists' Insurance?

From painters to sculptors, artists of all kinds face certain risks and need insurance protection. With the right insurance in place you can stay focused on your work and rest easy knowing you're protected against financial disaster if something goes wrong. Here's what you need to know about artist insurance to protect you and your business.

What Kind of Insurance Does an Artist Need?

While insurance needs vary by situation, here are some of the more common types of insurance that an artist might need—including some examples to show you when an artist might claim on their insurance.

1. Public Liability insurance protects you against claims from members of the public (e.g., your clients or people viewing your work) if they are injured or their property damaged and it's your fault. Public liability insurance can cover both legal expenses and compensation claims if you're sued. Public liability insurance is frequently available with £1 million, £2 million, £5 million and £10 million of cover.

  • Bodily Injury Example: At an exhibition, a member of the public trips on a canvas that you left leaning on a table. They fall and break their hip, leaving them unable to work for 2 months. They sue you for lost wages.
  • Property Damage Example: As you carry a large canvas into an exhibition, you accidentally knock over another artist's sculpture, causing it to fall and break. They sue you for damages.

2. Product Liability Insurance can protect you if you sell a piece or work that injures someone or damages their property. It is often wrapped up and sold with public liability cover.

  • Product Liability Example: A large sculpture that was commissioned by and installed by you in a local business premises is knocked into and falls, damaging the flooring. The business claims it was not installed safely and sues you for damages.

3. Employers' Liability insurance is required by law if you hire anyone to help you—although there are a few exceptions. Employers' Liability insurance protects you financially against claims by current or former employees if they fall ill or are injured due to their work.

  • Employers' Liability Example: An employee gets a severe burn at work while assisting with a metal sculpture. They blame you and sue for negligence. In addition, the NHS could claim for ambulance call out charges and the cost to treat your assistant.

4. Tools/Equipment/Stock Cover can protect against accidental damage, loss or theft of valuable artist equipment and materials, from a kiln to brushes. Artists' equipment can be very expensive to replace and without it you can't produce masterpieces, so having this cover in place can keep you creating after a covered event.

5. Personal Accident insurance can provide a financial benefit if you or an employee has an accidental injury and is unable to work—the benefit can either be a weekly payout for a temporary injury (e.g., broken arm) or a lump sum payout for a permanent disability (e.g., loss of a limb).

  • Personal Accident Example: You slip and fall at work, breaking your dominant hand. You're unable to finish a commission on time and you claim for the weekly benefit while you're off work.

In addition, an artist might need other types of cover as mentioned below.

Do I Need Artists Insurance?

Anyone dealing with members of the public should have public liability insurance at the very least. So if you participate in exhibitions, events, public performances, workshops, talks, open studios, public commissions or other situations where you're engaging with other people, public liability insurance is critical.

Whether or not you need other types of artist business insurance (e.g., employers' liability, product liability, professional indemnity, tools and stock, personal accident, commercial property, office equipment, contents cover, business interruption insurance, etc.) will depend on your individual situation and risk factors.

How Much is Public Liability Insurance for an Artist?

The average cost of public liability insurance for an artist starts from around £45 a year for a simple £1m public liability policy, assuming you're a self-employed sole trader. Artists pay some of the cheapest public liability rates in the UK.

Average Cost of Artist Public Liability Insurance£1m£2m£5m
Sole Trader£45£68£64
Partnership£64£65£64
Limited Company (1 director)£45£68£64
Limited Company (2 directors)£206£218£247

Artists who form a partnership or a limited company might pay more for insurance. Also, you're likely to pay a higher premium for a higher level of cover (as you can see below). However there is often quite a small premium increase for each additional million pounds of cover, compared to the first million. You might be surprised to hear it but your rate depends on where you live, too.

chart showing the cost of public liability insurance for an artist

Employers' liability insurance is required by law if you hire an employee—and will typically cost around £200 a year.

Of course, these are just sample quotes to give you a general idea of prices; your premiums might vary significantly depending on your situation and the details of your application.

FAQs

Public liability insurance is essential for any artist who deals with members of the public—which includes nearly all artists. It may also be required by your place of business or any places you exhibit your work.
The cost of liability insurance starts from as little as £45 a year (under £4 a month) for a self employed artist.
An artist needs insurance to protect financially against situations like injury to a member of the public (see public liability insurance); theft or damage to their tools or premises; injury to an employee (see employers' liability insurance); etc.
If you need artist insurance, it's a good idea to check more than one insurer because prices can really vary from company to company. Comparison sites can be useful in this regard to get a quick check of the market, as well as specialist artist insurers.
Artists of all types can get cover from a public liability, including those involved in ceramics, prints, jewellery, glass blowing, metalwork, woodwork, painting, drawing, sculpting, crafts, mixed media, illustration, live art and more.

Artist Employment and Earnings Statistics

According to data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) from the Office of National Statistics, the average UK artist earned £25,703 in 2019. However, the figures were not gender neutral. Men earned an average of £29,034 for the year, while women earned £22,762.

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