A few months ago I was lucky to meet a woman who owns an insurance agency that specializes in working with artists. I had to admit I did not have insurance for my art business and really didn't know what it could do for me. And of course- what it cost! Being a solopreneur (or any entrepreneur, right?) you are always keeping your income & outcome in mind, and deciding what you NEED to spend money on and what can be passed up. Turns out insurance is not something to pass on for many reasons!
So I decided to interview the lovely people at Michals Insurance based in Watertown, MA and find out what art insurance was and how my fellow creatives might benefit! Michals does personal, business and fine art insurance and serves a wide range of clients around the USA. For this interview I spoke with Vice President of the company, Susan Michals.
RWC: What is insurance and why is it important for creative business owners and individuals?
Michals: Insurance is protection. We sell protection, and the most important thing is to make sure our customers understand what they're purchasing. One of the things is to make sure your business is protected, and make sure your equipment is insured. To have professional liability is important, to make sure you have all the right documents in place incase something doesn't work out. If a client gets angry and decides to send a letter from a lawyer, if you get sued, there's protection put in place for you and we help navigate that.
RWC: So who do you work with and when should artists look into getting insured?
Michals: We work with galleries, museums, book dealers and individual artists. If they are doing anything and making money, yes look into insurance. Once you become an entity, you can be a sole proprietor, but do something to separate yourself from your business so you're protected.
RWC: What about new business owners & artists who are weary about investing money into something they aren't sure they need? There's so many expenses running your own business and not knowing how much insurance costs could prevent people from even looking into it.
Michals: I think it's something that should be built into your start up costs. I can't say what the cost would be, because it's based on individual factors. So we would need to have a conversation to figure that out.
When we put programs together, everything is individually tailored. No two cases are the same because everyone is different- down to what's on your schedule, what equipment you use, it all varies. We get to know what the person does, how much money they make, and we want to make sure we provide a service of education so everyone knows what they're getting.
It depends who you're photographing, what locations you're going to, do you need certificates before being allowed to work in certain places? We figure all that out based on individual needs.
RWC: Good to know! And if artists were looking for insurance what would they look for in an insurance agency?
Michals: Fine art insurance is a niche, and that comes into play for clients who have inventory. Michals can cover insurance for every aspect of your business, but other general insurance companies can help cover artists as well. For fine art inventory we have specific questions and precautions we know to take because we specialize in it.
RWC: What about digital artists and digital inventory?
Michals: You have to look at the most valuable thing in the production line and what happens when that gets damaged or lost? So if you're working in digital formats your laptop and external hard drives are where your work is stored and needs to be protected. If your physical stuff is stolen/damaged from an insurance point you'd be covered for those objects. But if your work isn't backed up in multiple places that can't be replaced obviously.
And if your equipment or whatever you use to make money is lost and you're unable to work because of it, you can be reimbursed for the income you would have normally made in that timeframe. It's built into the coverage. And if you miss weeks of work and lose that income, it's important to know you can submit documents on that and be reimbursed based on your income history.
RWC: Wow I didn't know that! I bet a lot of people don't know that.
Michals: Yeah most people don't realize how much coverage and protection they really have access to.
And if you're involving other people in your business it's helpful to know what you need. If you hire someone for one day as an assistant you technically should have workers' compensation. Or if you hire someone to transfer your art or help set up an art show- and they get hurt while doing so, workers' compensation comes into play. You can carry the smallest amount of workers' comp, but then if something happens you know you're covered.
RWC: So people can use insurance not just to protect art and equipment but their businesses and anyone involved in the process.
Michals: Yes and it's all adjustable, so if things change people can just call and update us. It's important we know what is in your inventory, what's been sold, what new camera you got etc. It's just about communicating and keeping us updated so we can protect what you really have.
RWC: That's so interesting, you are dealing with so many different situations all the time!
Michals: Yes, and we make sure to check in with clients and if their renewal is coming up we talk and get everything up to date! Insurance is key to what artists are doing when they go out in the world and do work, and involve anyone in their business. And it's really serious and important to understand what you're buying, so talk with someone who can explain in layman's terms what insurance can do for you.
RWC: Right and it's something you may not think about, but when you really need it and don't have it, it becomes a very stressful situation.
Michals: Exactly. The best scenario is you have insurance and never have to use it. It's peace of mind. Anything can happen, but we don't want people to run around worrying about it, let us worry about it.
Thank you so much Susan! This was so informative and I hope other artists will feel more knowledgable now about their options & need for insurance. To find out more about Michals Insurance and how they can protect your business, check out their website.
Let us know if you have insurance or if you're going to go get some after reading this! Comment below with your thoughts.
Wishing everyone a SAFE and creative week!
Peace, love & pixels,