So you’re playing music out in the world. You’ve got a decent instruments, maybe some recording gear. Maybe you’ve got several guitars and a nice amp. Maybe a drum kit with a pricey cymbal or two. You’re driving these around in your car which is parked in dark lots around run-down clubs in not-the-best areas of town. And you’re not insured?
Okay, no judgement. Most musicians don’t think about this simple but essential thing they’ve got to do: buy insurance. The reason we don’t is that we think it’ll be a pain and expensive. It isn’t.
If your name is on a lease to an apartment, you are probably required to carry renter’s insurance (or homeowner’s insurance). All you need is an additional endorsement for your musical gear. Unless you’ve got a single instrument worth $10,000 or more, it’s easy to do this. And listen, if you’ve got a $10,000 instrument, don’t leave it in your car in East Nashville.
Anyway, in the interests of being transparent, here’s what I’ve got. I don’t own any single instrument worth a lot of money. But I have a couple of guitars that I’ve put money into and some recording equipment. I decided to insurance all my equipment for $4000. My insurance premium: $18. A year.
That endorsement for my musical equipment is for replacement value with no deductible. That means, if someone steals my guitar no matter where it is, my insurance company will pay to replace it and I won’t have to pay a deductible. I’m covered whether my guitar is in my car on the road, in a club, in someone else’s house, in a studio.
$18. Are you on the phone with your insurance company yet?
What you need to know
- Usually, to insure your musical equipment you’re going to get what’s called a Valuable Items Endorsement to your Renter’s or Homeowner’s Insurance. Generally, this endorsement isn’t available separately from Renter’s or Homeowner’s Insurance. (i.e. you have to have one to have the other.)
- Also, some big insurance companies don’t add endorsements like this to their policies so your insurance company might instead put you in touch with a local agent who will add this endorsement. Don’t panic. Don’t get lazy. Call that person and set it up.
- When you are talking to the agent, make sure you’re getting an endorsement that covers you without a deductible (i.e. gives you replacement value) wherever you and your gear are.
- It isn’t just instruments! All your musical equipment should be covered. Guitars, pedals, cables, cases, et cetera. It even includes the computer and software you use to record. When you’re establishing the value of your gear, include all of that.
- Finally, after you’ve gotten the endorsement, take pictures of all your gear and record their serial numbers. Make sure you have proof of ownership for the software you use (register it and keep the proof of registration).
Don’t feel stupid
Sometimes we hesitate to do the grown-up thing of buying insurance because we feel a sort of psychological fear that either we’re not “ready” for the grown-up decision or we don’t want to acknowledge to ourselves that we don’t have insurance. Don’t worry about this. You are not the only musician without insurance. When I called my insurance company to discuss my policy in preparation for this article, the agent I spoke with confessed he had thousands of dollars of musical gear that he did not have covered.
For a struggling musician, getting your gear stolen is a traumatic experience. We all have personal relationships with our instruments. My guitars have names. They aren’t things I can replace without a fair amount of emotional expense. What would make that worse, though, is the financial expense to replace any one. So give yourself some peace of mind and buy some damn insurance already.