Musical instruments are expensive. Any parent with kids studying the piano or violin will quickly attest to that. Add in the cost of amplifiers, stands and microphones for those students who actually make it to playing a real gig, and the numbers climb re
In August of last year, South African charttopping band ISO had a trailer packed with over R100 000 worth of musical and stage equipment stolen from a ‘ secure’ parking lot at one of the country’s leading music festivals, Oppikoppi. However, as is usual for bands playing at events like this, none of the instruments and equipment within the trailer were insured. The month prior to the incident, another renowned South African band, Mr Cat & The Jackal, had their tour van broken into as it was parked outside the home of one of its members after they had returned from a tour. Within two minutes, the band had their entire inventory of musical instruments stolen. No instruments also means no income. Both of these bands achieve relative success in the South African music industry, receiving regular airplay on national radio stations. ISO is a constant favourite on commercial radio stations like 5FM, have been on a ten arena tour in Germany, and are regular headliners at local music festivals. However, in a developing South African music industry, popularity does
not transpose to high income. On the contrary, Richard Brokensha of ISO emphasises that affordability is one of the reasons his instruments were not covered; lack of awareness of insurance products being the other. “As musicians we struggle to make any extra profit for things like insurance, even though this is such an important thing to have as a touring band,” admits Brokensha. “I am not aware of a specific insurance policy that is targeted towards musicians or equipment. I suppose there are policies that sound and effects companies use, because their gear goes into the millions,” adds Brokensha. There is clearly a gap in the market for an astute insurer willing to educate this country’s growing live music proponents. Heck, maybe one of our readers is even a frustrated rock star who has stumbled into an insurance career by accident, and who would be well placed to design purpose- built policies for this market.
Insurance providers like KEU and REISSA, do provide specialist insurance cover for the entertainment industry. This includes cover for events, the film industry, and all- risk cover for equipment. Cover is specialised and tailored to each client and situation, depending on their needs and the value of the equipment. Chummy Munks, manager of underwriting at KEU, indicates that for their all- risk equipment insurance policy, the film industry is significantly their largest clientele. However, performing artists such as musicians and DJs need to be made aware that they can also cover their equipment under these policies. “We can provide cover for tour bands and DJs, the film industry, stage construction and event hosting. Whatever equipment they have, they need to take out an annual equipment all- risk policy, and that will cover all of the equipment they have. Equipment may include anything from a generator to lighting. Whatever they have, we will cover it,” says Munks. “The all- risk equipment policy is an annual policy that can be paid monthly. There is a difference between some of the insurers who bring you a pure monthly policy, which means that it is technically a new policy every month – so each time you pay your premium you buy your policy for the month. We give you an annual policy, and you get financed by one of the finance houses like Fulcrum or Epic. They then pay us the premium in full and collect it from the client on a monthly basis,” adds Munks. Even if musicians wish to take their equipment overseas, they can be advised that their all- risk equipment policy will allow them to use their instruments abroad. However, brokers need to inform their clients that even though the cover is worldwide, insurers may object to certain countries and this should be discussed beforehand, in case it leads to exclusion. “There are a few exclusions, obviously. We are very strict about theft from unattended vehicles. You cannot just leave a thing on the seat of the car and leave, because it will be stolen,” says Munks. Other specific exceptions include damage as a result of cleaning or similar processes; preexisting damage or wear and tear; confiscation by authorities; mechanical problems, or delivery challenges.
Security & safety
Theft is the biggest risk when musical, film, or any other equipment that is usually used at an event is concerned. In the case of ISO, their equipment was stolen from a secure car park when their trailer was stolen. However, a secure car park is not always secure. Under the KEU all- risk equipment insurance, ISO would have been covered. “The problem with security and security companies is that they are some of the lowest paid individuals in the country. Often guards don’t work overnight, they do not have
weapons, and they are not properly trained. So it is important that what they are guarding is covered,” warns Munks. Clients need to provide all the information of their tour or event to their insurer beforehand. Equipment insurers look at each case individually, and they will be glad to cover a client if they are aware of the risks. Brokers, therefore, need to inform their clients exactly what the parameters of the equipment insurance policy are. “Accidental damage happens; a client can drop a camera and that is not a problem. There is a standard excess for all materials damaged by rain, or motor accident, and everything else, but if it is from accidental damaged by the client caused himself, or if it is stolen, there is a higher excess. The standard excess is 10 per cent of the claim, whereas the higher excess is 20 per cent of the claim,” explains Munks So it pays to be careful and, according to Munks, clients usually are. It is not surprising since gear like camera equipment and musical instruments are usually very expensive. For a lot of musicians instruments are investments; either they are more expensive than their owner can actually afford, are rare, or they might be custom made. Of the instruments that Mr Cat & The Jackal had stolen, one was newly- imported Greek bouzouki and the other an autoharp. In cases such as these, the items cannot be easily replaced. “We are currently insuring the Cape Town Orchestra that is going overseas to tour Europe. If somebody has a violin worth R120 000, that violin is important to them; it is something they bought and have been playing, and they really look after that instrument because it is their life. You can’t just buy another violin that will play like that, so we will insure it for them,” says Munks Affordability “We are one of the few insurers who can provide cover for a day, a week, or a year. Some clients are happy with the security they have at home. They keep their equipment locked up behind alarms, but when they want to use that equipment for a weekend at a music festival, or a film shoot, and they want to insure it for that period, we will insure it,” says Munks. Damaged and stolen equipment significantly affects the livelihoods of performance artists as it leaves them without the tools to apply their trade. ISO was able to continue touring at the end of last year after their incident was reported by national media and they received support from their sponsors, musical instrument retailer, Music Connection, as well as from family and fans. However, the incident may show that there is an opportunity for brokers and insurers to make this cover more visible, specifically for musicians. The fact that the timeframe of the policy can be tailored is extremely useful for brokers when negotiating equipment cover for equipment insurance, particularly in the case of performing artists. Touring musicians often tour for smaller periods of time; while international artists can tour for up to a year, thus local artists might only have their equipment on the road for a few months, or in the case of a music festival, for a weekend at a time. This can work out to be more affordable for the client.