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Voice Acting & Insurance / Part 2
Liability Insurance: Your Studio Client
Slips, The Dog Bites, You Goof Up ...
By Keith Michaels
Voice Actor & Insurance Specialist
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the differences between personal insurance and business insurance, and how to apply them to your specific needs as a voice actor.
In this article, we’ll explore liability insurance.
IF A "HOBBY" ...
But before I begin, I want to point out that I am writing these articles for voice actors who have incorporated their business, or who are sole proprietors with registered business entities, and earn the majority of their income from their business.
The voice actor who does it as a “hobby” so to speak, may not need to worry about these issues. There are remedies available for folks who do this as a hobby, or who do relatively little voice-over work.
Talk to your insurance company and be very upfront about what you do, how often, and how much money you earn from it.
Also document all your conversations with them for future reference.
In Part 1, you took a quiz to find out if you need some form of business insurance. Let’s take a look at a couple of those questions:
  • Do clients, vendors, or contractors come to your home to conduct business?
  • Are you asked to sign non-disclosure agreements?
  • Do you provide live event recording services, such as school concerts?
There are many types of liability insurance. For our purposes, we will discuss general liability and professional liability insurance.
General liability insurance protects you from lawsuits and claims from third parties.
For example, within the general liability policy there is coverage for premises liability. “Premises” for voice actors, is usually the home.
So let’s say that you have a really nice studio in your basement and you hire out your studio to anyone who wants to record his or her voice or band for a demo tape.
This means they come to you as a business, and pay you for your services.
If your client is injured on your premises, they can sue you for injury and a host of other issues.
We have all heard of the “slip and fall” scenarios in the winter or the dog bites.
But what about the really scary scenarios that can put you out of business, and perhaps, out of a home?
There was a lawsuit filed in 2002 against a home studio that had such bad housekeeping that an amplifier electrocuted a client!
These things happen. And if they happen to you, no matter how big or small the injury, your basic homeowners insurance will not protect you.
Next, Errors and Omissions (E&O) or Professional Liability insurance, defends and protects you in the event of professional negligence or failure to perform your professional duties.
“How does this affect me as a voice actor?” you ask.
If you work with non-disclosure agreements, or do a lot of on-location announcing or recording, you may want to get an E&O policy.
Let’s say you have a non-disclosure agreement with a client about a really cool product being launched in spring.
You tell your mom (negligence) about the product because it is designed for women her age. She proceeds to casually tell a friend. The company finds out about the leak and sues you for damages.
E&O defends you in that lawsuit.
EXAMPLE #2 ...
As another example, say you are contracted to record a live two-day city concert with proceeds of the sale of CDs to help the city’s homeless people.
You decide you don’t need a backup recording source (error) and decide to use your (insert weak brand name here) laptop. Ouch.
They sue you for damages, loss of income, etc.
E&O to the rescue.
The good news is that most homeowner insurance companies offer a “home business endorsement” for their policies, giving you some protection for your business.
But E&O insurance is not included and must be purchased separately.
It is important to speak to your agent and determine if an endorsement would be enough for your needs, or if a business owner policy is the right way to go.
The size and scope of your business will be the determining factor.
Keith Michaels is a 25-year veteran of broadcasting and voice acting, and owns Keith Michaels Voice Imaging in Tampa, FL. He is also a licensed property and casualty agent. After leaving broadcasting in 2002, he started a new career in commercial insurance, but always maintained a home studio to stay active. He currently works full-time as a voice actor and producer.


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Comments (1)
BP Smyth, Narrator
4/15/2010 at 10:24 AM
Thank you, Keith, for taking the time to share all of this important information. Unfortunately we live in a very litigious period of time. Knowledge of all that you are saying is important and needs to be heeded.
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