Traditionally, live performance designers have been covered by the insurance of the company employing us, like any other employee. The APDG believes that designers should be covered by employer insurances and has included insurance clauses in the APDG Standard Agreement (Section E – Producer’s Assurances).
However, increasingly companies are classifying designers as contractors rather than employees, and requiring them to provide their own insurance cover. If you really are working as a contractor you do need to provide your own insurance.
Before agreeing to provide your own insurance cover, check with the company engaging you if they can include you and your work under their insurance policy. If they cannot or will not cover you then APDG recommends that the cost of the required insurance should be added to your fee. You might want to invoice for insurance separately so it is clear that it is a separate business cost.
Regardless of whether the company employing you is insuring you, many designers decide to take out their own insurance. Which insurances, and how much insurance cover you take out, very much depends on the level of risk you feel comfortable with and how much insurance you can afford. Taking out a ‘bundle’ of insurances with one provider will usually be cheaper than taking out separate insurances (see below for APDG Member recommendations). A broker with knowledge of the arts sector can also help designers with finding suitable policies.
Insurance rules change from company to company and state to state, so it is important to negotiate insurance openly with your employer as part of your contract.
Employers have to have this to cover their employees against injury sustained during the course of their employment.
The employer’s or venue’s Workers Compensation insurance will cover you when you are at work on their premises and in the theatre. It may not cover you when you are travelling between jobs, or working in your studio. Check with your employer and also refer to the APDG Live Performance Contract (Section E – Producer’s Assurances).
Death and Total and Permanent Disablement Insurance (TPD)
An insurance policy that people can choose to have to provide security for you and your family if you become totally and permanently disabled, or die.
This insurance is not compulsory but is advisable. Your superannuation provider may be able to provide this insurance as part of their client service. If you elect for the cost of your TPD cover to be deducted from your super account, be careful that this does not affect your super performance too much.
An insurance policy that provides the designer with insurance cover for claims relating to professional advice they have given that causes loss and/or injury.
Although the professional indemnity risks for a designer may be considered low, an increasingly ‘risk-averse’ workplace environment has made this insurance a standard part of the insurances requested by producers. Ask your employer to clarify what risks they actually want you to indemnify against.
An insurance policy that provides the designer with insurance cover for claims by members of the public relating to loss and/or injury.
This insurance would cover you for an accident to another person – in your studio, for example.
An insurance policy which covers self-employed people for lost income if they cannot work due to accident or illness.
To qualify for this cover you need to demonstrate a regular income over two years. Superannuation companies can also provide this insurance.
Most respondents of the 2018 APDG survey did not have income protection.
Tips and Tricks
- ‘It can feel hard early in your career to justify the expense of paying the insurance premium. If you do not have income protection, it is a good idea to plan for how you will ride out a period of not working due to illness or injury’
- ‘I make sure my business insurance premiums don’t coincide with my vehicle insurance premiums’
- ‘I decided I couldn’t afford income protection insurance, so I just put some money aside in a separate high interest account that I could use if I really needed to’
- ‘It is worth asking the company to include you in their workers’ compensation insurance plan if it is not obviously stated in your contract – many companies can do this fairly easily and are happy to oblige’
This Australian Government site explains each of the business insurances.
This page from the Arts Law Centre gives an overview of what to look for in insurance.
Some Insurance providers that have been recommended by APDG designers: