As a teaching artist, you are also your own small business manager. It’s important to think through the responsibilities and liabilities you take on when going into the community to do work—or even in your own studio.
Today on the Bartol blog, we bring you an interview with Holly Fisher. Holly is Program Lead for Insurance and Visas at Fractured Atlas, a New York-based nonprofit that works with artists, arts organizations, and cultural stakeholders nationwide to provide affordable and accessible insurance coverage.
What kinds of insurance are most essential for teaching artists?
It varies based on what each individual teaching artist is doing and where they are in their career. The most common type of insurance we see by far is liability insurance, usually with abuse and molestation coverage. Sometimes we’ll have teaching artists request student accident coverage, or inland marine or property insurance for expensive materials or equipments. Workers’ compensation we see a lot, and then there’s volunteer accident coverage if an artist works with volunteers who need to be covered.
When does it make sense for a teaching artist to get insurance?
We don’t, by default, say “yes, you need coverage.” But if you’re working with entities—like granting organizations, the city, schools, or a landlord—that require you to have insurance, obviously that’s a reason to get coverage. It’s going to give you access to more opportunities. Another reason to get coverage is if you are looking to lend credibility to your organization or yourself as a teaching artist. Parents are going to feel more secure, for instance, if you have coverage for abuse and molestation, knowing that you’ve crossed all of your t’s and dotted your i’s. Ask if it financially makes sense for you. Sometimes insurance is expensive, so it doesn’t make financial sense. If it’s going to be super expensive and you don’t really have anyone requiring you to have insurance, it may not yet be the time.
What are some strategies for teaching artists to secure insurance?
With somebody starting out looking for insurance, I would recommend that they first do some research on insurance providers that specialize in the arts and apply to as many as possible. It’s a really good idea to get quotes to compare. I would also say that it’s a good idea to have any insurance requirements or contracts for the coming year at the ready to give to a broker or agent so they can make sure that the artist is really getting the insurance that they need.
What are the specific concerns teaching artists should be aware of when purchasing insurance? What questions should they ask?
If you’re looking at different companies and wondering where to start, a good idea is to make sure that the insurance companies are A-rated by A.M. Best—that just means that they’re reputable companies that are financially secure. And that’s going to be important. It’s something that a lot of different institutions might require. If you’re working with a landlord or with a granting organization, they may want you to have insurance with a reputable company.
Another thing to look for is that the limits of the coverage are going to match what you need for requirements to your landlord or from a grant. For liability insurance, best practice is usually that your policy has a minimum of a million dollars per occurrence and two million dollars aggregate. Something that is less than that is going to be lower than the requirements for a lot of different institutions.
I would also make sure that the artists are going through their third party contracts to see if there are any special requirements. It can be tough if you’re about to start a really cool opportunity and find out that your insurance doesn’t meet a certain tiny little requirement, which would prevent you from getting that grant or working with this school, for instance.
Checking the quote itself is important to see what exclusions are on the policy. That’s something that you definitely want to ask a broker or agent—for example, if there’s a deductible. For most liability policies, that’s not going to be the case, but certainly for an equipment insurance policy, or if you’re covering your materials, that would be something that might come up.
Additional insured coverage is important if you’re working with other entities. If possible, it’s great to get blanket additional insured coverage so that anybody who needs a certificate of insurance or proof of your coverage can get it.
To learn more about insurance opportunities for teaching artists, visit https://fracturedatlasinsurance.org.
Interview responses have been edited for length and clarity.