Do Musicians Need Public Liability Insurance?

musicians need public liability insurance

Working as a gigging musician, whether in function bands playing weddings and birthdays or a session musician on the upswing, is a gift and a curse in one.

You are blessed to be making a living doing the thing you love, but also on the hook in a number of ways – from finding work to managing your own administration.

When it comes to admin, there are many things you need to consider, including expenses and insurance. While losing gear can be costly, equipment insurance shouldn’t be your only concern. You should also be thinking about public liability insurance. But what is it, and why do you need it?

What is Public Liability Insurance?

Public liability insurance (PLI) is a form of insurance that protects individuals from the financial repercussions of civil claims, with specific relation to incidents in a public or private space. It is a common form of insurance, often used by businesses and freelance contractors to ensure coverage against potentially costly legal action.

Public liability insurance might be used by a plumber or joiner to insure them against an accident occurring on a job; a homeowner might trip on construction materials and hurt themselves, or accidentally injure themselves on one of their tools. In the event they hold the contractor responsible, they would enter a compensation claim – and the contractor’s insurance would shield them from the full financial consequences.

Why Do Musicians Need It?

But why might a musician need public liability insurance? Musicians do not typically carry sharp tools and dangerous implements around – but, from certain points of view, they do. Music equipment can present a number of hazards to others in a venue or space, whether trip hazards or the risk of electrical injury. Malfunctions could cause damage to a venue or private residence, or serious injury in the worst-case scenario.

There are also wider concerns for which a musician or band may be held directly responsible. For example, you might hire a venue for a show, but fail to effectively plan for a large crowd. In the event of a crush or crowd-related incident, you could be held responsible through failure to take preventative measures.

These examples may be atypical, but demonstrate well the ways in which a musician can become liable for an event or injury. There are ways to minimise the likelihood of such occurrences, but the only safe way to completely protect yourself from potential financial costs is through insurance.

Obtaining PLI

Obtaining insurance against public liability as a musician is simple. There are a number of avenues to it, with varying degrees of cost dependent on the risks inherent to your act and the size of your team. The Musician’s Union offers PLI as a perk to its members, rendering it accessible to smaller freelance artists.

For larger groups with backstage teams behind them, the private route to insurance through a renowned insurance group is a more robust way to ensure coverage. The larger the shows you play, the higher the potential financial costs in the event of an accident. As such, larger bands may need a higher indemnity figure than the standard £10 million offered by many schemes.


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