Our friend and admired colleague Beth Mann (we previously featured her here: http://www.thebead.net/index.php/the-bead-blog/240-beth-mann-jewelry) has kindly agreed to do this guest post on Crafter's Liability and Teaching Insurance -- as it was her great idea to include a feature on this topic, and she is far more informed than we are on this issue! (See her here on the right, and there's also a close-up of some of her beautiful work below.) Here's what Beth had to say:
When my husband suggested I look into liability insurance for my business, I was a bit skeptical until he brought up a couple of scenarios that could happen, and also the fact that if someone were to sue us, we could lose all our assets, the things we have worked hard to accomplish in life like our home and retirement savings. Then nearly simultaneously, I was at Bead Bazaar, the annual show that San Diego Bead Society puts on once a year, and was talking to a local bead shop owner about teaching a class at her store. She mentioned that her shop requires jewelry teachers to carry teaching insurance.
So I set off to research who may have this general business liability and/or teaching insurance, only to find that no-one I knew of had it. I contacted fellow crafters, the president of the SD Bead Society, and the organizer of a San Diego crafter's website. Here is an example of one of the emails I wrote:
I am researching getting liability insurance for my jewelry business and wondered if other crafters have this or have looked into getting this. I have had other vendors ask me why I would want such a thing, and here are a couple of scenarios that I have thought of:
Say your canopy blows over onto someone and they get hurt. I don't want them suing me personally and taking our assets. I have had my canopy blow over with no one getting injured. However, in June I was at a show next to a clothing vendor; their canopy blew over and a 4 ft mirror fell and broke into the grass. Someone could have gotten hurt either by the canopy or the mirror, not to mention the canopy could have blown into my booth and the mirror pieces too.
Another scenario: a piece of jewelry breaks and a child or dog chokes on part of it. Again, liability. I have gotten insurance estimates from three places for general business liablility insurance. Two were about $300/yr. The other was ridiculously high and made me think the agent really didn't want to deal with it so he priced it out of any reasonable ball park at $1000/yr.
We are heading into the busy season for crafters, so timing is everything! Oh, and I seem to remember some shows where they require having liability insurance before they will accept a vendor. You can buy temporary insurance for about $100 per show, but that's not cost effective if you want to be covered any time you are doing business!
Responses I received from other crafters were varied. Most people had never even thought about it and didn't seem to want to think about it (the ostrich approach). One person said they would just get it for shows that required it. Another seasoned crafter told me she doesn't have any assets for anyone to sue her for. Someone else told me about her sister getting her car broken into twice when it was full of crafting show materials, and how she lost all of that twice, but she still didn't get business insurance.
I don't think people realize that their homeowners insurance and auto insurance don't really cover business related events. So when someone wants you to pay damages and you don't have insurance, they will go after anything you have and potentially you could get financially ruined.
Okay, long story short, there were 2 local insurance companies I called. The one that handled our homeowners policy gave the ridiculously high estimate (over $1000) and had taken over 2 weeks to get back to me. (Aside: Given that and other incidents where they were not readily responsive, we changed homeowners insurance!!!). I contacted a second local agent who gave me a price just under $300/yr., and at the same time I filled out an online application to a different insurance broker, and they gave me a similar estimate.
Meanwhile, I was taking my time deciding while I was talking to crafters about this -- and also wanted to ask the insurers about adding the teaching insurance also. The online company was very responsive and available, and they said they could probably combine the two policies for the same price, $279/yr. Then a few days went by and they called to say they couldn't write the policy after all, because we live too close to a brush area that could potentially cause a fire. I called the other local agent, referred to me by neighbors who have a policy for their home with him. He worked with me and I was able to get a combined policy for just over $300/yr. I am still waiting to receive the policy in the mail to look at the details, but I am relieved to have made it through this process before the onslaught of holiday shows begins!
I wonder if anyone out there has pondered this or looked into liability insurance for their business and/or teaching?
Hoping to hear from you via this site!
Beth Mann, Artistic Designer
We are truly appreciative of Beth's willingness to share her story with us. Coincidentally, Beth was also the winner of our recent contest for the vintage Mexican beads -- we hope to get more interaction on the web site through additional contests in the future -- and will keep you posted as opportunities arise!
Until Next Time,
p.s. If you enjoyed this post, you'd likely also enjoy our post on 'Shannon's Story' here: http://www.thebead.net/index.php/the-bead-blog/149-shannon-s-story