Fire, Flood, Injury: Infamous Stage Disasters & Insurance Considerations

Posted by Grant Patten on Mar 4, 2020 10:13:39 AM

Fire, Flood, Injury: Infamous Stage Disasters & Insurance Considerations

Infamous Stage Disasters - National TheatreLondon’s National Theatre | Shutterstock Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1164426331.

This post reviews some infamous theatrical stage disasters that have happened over the years. We cannot guarantee that any of these disasters would have necessarily been covered under any insurance claim (coverage decisions are ultimately up to the insurance company), but it is nonetheless instructive to consider what has gone wrong during past live productions – and how insurance might have been helpful – especially if you work in the theatre world.

Globe Theatre fire – London, 1613

In 1613, the Globe Theatre in London burnt to the ground. This was the theatre where most of Shakespeare’s plays debuted, including The Tempest.

How did it happen?

A theatrical cannon – set off during a performance of All is True/Henry VIII – misfired, igniting the wooden beams and roof. There were no reports of any injuries.

A year later the theatre was rebuilt, only to be eventually demolished by the Puritans on ideological grounds.

Iroquois Theatre fire – Chicago, 1903

This tragedy was the deadliest theatre fire and the deadliest single-building fire in US history, resulting in at least 602 deaths.

How did it happen?

During a matinee of the musical Mr. Blue Beard, sparks from an arc light ignited a curtain, probably as a result of an electrical short circuit. The fire spread quickly from there and those in the crowded theatre began to panic and flee, but this resulted in a human stampede of sorts, and many weren’t able to get out alive.

Way Upstream flood – London, 1982

During a rehearsal of the play Way Upstream – which is set on a cabin cruiser boat on an English river – at London’s National Theatre in 1982, the water tank simulating the river burst. This flooded the National Theatre.

How did it happen?

The National had constructed a 6,000-gallon tank to hold the boat; the tank eventually split and deluged the stage machinery. The boat had been weighed down by a dozen people, half of them stage crew, at the time of the flood.

Mamma Mia! hair dryer slip – London, 2014

During a performance of Mamma Mia! in London, actress Kim Ismay (who plays Tanya) once swung a hair dryer around by its cable mid-song (as she does every night) only for the cable to snap and the hair dryer to hit an audience member in the face!

The audience member was given champagne during the interval to apologize for the accident. A nice touch, certainly – but not likely to be adequate if the patron still decides to sue.

Our SOLO Theatrical Insurance program includes General Liability. This coverage is designed to protect against all sums that the insured shall become legally obligated to pay for bodily injury, property damage or personal injury to third parties arising out of the operations of the insured production. It includes the cost of a lawyer to defend you.

Consider Front Row Theatre Insurance | Performing Arts Insurance | Liability Insurance for Theatre Production Companies

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Offering a simple and quick solution, our SOLO Theatrical Insurance program can be purchased online with a credit card in six minutes and can include the following coverage for up to 4-weeks with no minimum premium:

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DISCLAIMER: Informational statements regarding insurance coverage are for general description purposes only. These statements do not amend, modify or supplement any insurance policy. Consult the actual policy or your broker for details regarding terms, conditions, coverage, exclusions, products, services and programs which may be available to you. Your eligibility for particular products and services is subject to the final determination of underwriting qualifications and acceptance by the insurance underwriting company providing such products or services. This website does not make any representations that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss, or type of claim or loss, under any policy. Whether coverage exists or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any policy depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss and all applicable policy wording.



Topics: Theatre Insurance

Insurance for body parts for Actors, Models and Performers: What!

Posted by David Hamilton on Jan 9, 2019 2:51:29 PM

body parts cast insurance

Insuring body parts | Body Part Insurance | Body Insurance | HOW TO INSURE BODY PARTS?

Betty Grable was known as the "Girl with the Million-Dollar Legs" because that's what Fox Studios requested from Lloyd's of London for the Body Parts Insurance policy. Grable was once quoted to have said, "There are two reasons why I am successful in show business and I am standing on both of them." Grable knew her legs were something to be admired. Most ordinary people wouldn't need this type of insurance, but those who have careers based on their appearance or performance might need body part insurance coverage.

There are rumours that Jennifer Lopez insures her rear-end for a billion-bucks, although she denies it. Anyone with a body part that valuable shouldn't go around advertising it.

There are reports throughout the history of the entertainment business of celebrities insuring a variety of body parts.

body parts insuranceThe earliest reports of body part insurance come from the 1920s, when a policy insuring silent movie star Ben Turpin's signature crossed eyes from the risk of going straight was issued. It might seem odd anyone famous for crossed eyes could make it big in the first place but, the fact Turpin took out insurance protecting his asset is rather interesting.

Insurance is a contract binding an insurer to indemnify someone against a specific loss in return for a premium. There needs to be a value for the asset being insured and most of us generally think insurance would cover losses suffered from some kind of disaster. Well, when you think about it, celebrities need body part insurance if their asset is their own rump. What would they have if something happened back there? A disaster!

Bruce Springsteen was once reported to insure his voice for six million dollars and the truth is that had something gone wrong with the Boss's voice, it very well may have cost him the rest of his career and substantial future earning potential. When we consider what a movie star, singer or model has, it's not so strange to imagine that they may want to insure their future in the event something goes wrong. It's just too bad there isn't "No-Talent" Insurance for some of the celebrities.

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EE Cast Insurance

Cast Insurance: Reasons to Consult a Doctor

Topics: Cast Insurance, Theatre Insurance, Actor body insurance

Venue Insurance in Canada

Posted by David McLeish on Aug 30, 2018 10:28:13 AM

Your venue welcomes the world.

Whether it’s an audience of ten thousand or something more intimate, you open your space to the public, and to the people who know how to draw a crowd. This, in turn, exposes you and your venue to certain risks that can be managed with the right kind of venue insurance. Whether you need stadium insurance or community theatre insurance or amphitheater insurance or auditorium insurance or concert hall insurance or insurance for an outdoor stage, you are responsible for the safety of the public and performers and you could become liable if someone is injured at your venue. You also have to be concerned with potential damage to property, performance cancellations, the care and conduct of your employees… then there’s all the stuff you never could have predicted!

Front Row’s venue insurance program will look at your specific venue, and we’ll tailor coverage to meet your unique needs. We’ll look at things like:

  • Your venue’s capacity
  • The frequency of performances
  • Types of performances hosted
  • Types of concessions sold (any alcohol?)
  • The characteristics of the building where it all happens

When it comes to risk, we’ve got the best seat in the house, and we can help you see your exposures from every angle. That means you can confidently welcome the world’s best, brightest, and craziest–whatever the world throws at you, you’ll be ready!

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Event Insurance 101 & How to Protect Your Events

Venue Insurance in Canada

Event Planning

Wedding Insurance

Renting Churches, Mosques

Planning a Bridal Shower?

Baby Shower Insurance

Event Cancellation

Conference & Event Insurance

Concert Insurance

Movie Theatres

Wrap Parties

Holiday Office Party Insurance

Anniversary Parties

Birthday Party Insurance

Kid's Birthday Party Insurance

Bar Mitzvah Insurance

Planning a Garden Show?

Picnic Insurance

Topics: venue insurance, concert insurance, Theatre Insurance, event insurance, short term venue insurance, outdoor stage insurance

Movie Theatre Cinema Insurance: Protection for Owners

Posted by David Hamilton on Jul 26, 2018 2:35:01 PM

Movie theatre insurance

movie theatre CINEMA insurance

Proper movie theatre insurance allows you to transfer the risks of operating a cinema so you can focus on marketing and growing your business.

Do You Need Movie Theatre Insurance?

Yes: Film house insurance allows you to obtain financing at the bank and it helps you avoid bankruptcy caused by accidents in your theater. These are some examples of repairs and lawsuits that can happen:

  • A yoga instructor slips on spilled drink in the dark and blows out a knee and sues for loss of future earnings.
  • Customer gets sick after ordering at the concession and blames food for lost wages.
  • Bathrooms are vandalized causing a flood.
  • Promotional displays are knocked over and the distributor demands payment to replace.
  • The building burns to the ground or is damaged in an earthquake.
  • Digital projector breaks down causing business interruption until a repair or replacement occurs.

What Does Movie Theatre Insurance Cover?

A basic movie house insurance policy should include compensation for damage to your building or furnishings, as well as your responsibility any customers that are injured visiting your property.

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You likely need protection for:

  • Commercial theater property coverage: This covers the building and contents, such as: desktops and other office equipment, cash machines, digital projectors, screens, seating, etc.
  • Business interruption coverage: This protects against lost business income and pays for on-going operating expenses if you need to shut down.
  • Commercial theatre general liability coverage: This pays for bodily injury and property damage due to your negligence (e.g., a guest falls down the stairs from the balcony and sues because the carpet was not glued down on one of the stairs)

At Front Row we can provide you with:

  • Liquor liability for venues : This is necessary if you sell alcoholic beverages at your movie theatre. It protects you in instances of bodily injury and property damage that result from selling or serving alcohol.
  • Online cyber coverage: To protect you if you are hacked and lose customer data.
  • Short-term Venue Liability Insurance: If you do short term rentals at your theatre, you can direct your tenants to our online short term event insurance and short term venue insurance site where they can purchase special event insurance in 5 minutes and provide you with evidence of one day event insurance so that your theatre is protected.

How Much Does Movie Theatre Insurance Cost?

Depends on your revenue, number of screens, location, construction of your building, age of venue. Contact us for an estimate.

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About: Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc. is an independent insurance broker that provides office movie theatre insurance for the lowest possible cost. Should a claim occur, Front Row ensures that movie theatre insurance client receives the money they are owed per the office insurance policy, as quickly as possible. Front Row has offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.



Event Insurance 101 & How to Protect Your Events

Venue Insurance in Canada

Event Planning

Wedding Insurance

Renting Churches, Mosques

Planning a Bridal Shower?

Baby Shower Insurance

Event Cancellation

Conference & Event Insurance

Concert Insurance

Movie Theatres

Wrap Parties

Holiday Office Party Insurance

Anniversary Parties

Birthday Party Insurance

Kid's Birthday Party Insurance

Bar Mitzvah Insurance

Planning a Garden Show?

Picnic Insurance

Topics: Theatre Insurance, event insurance, business interruption coverage, short term liability insurance, film house insurance, short term venue insurance, host liquor liability

Short-Term Theatre insurance now available Online through Front Row

Posted by David Hamilton on May 17, 2017 3:16:53 PM

Short-Term Theatre insurance now available Online through Front Row

Vancouver, Canada – May 19, 2017 Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc. is pleased to announce the launch of their new short-term online SOLO theatre insurance program.

This will allow producers of a live performance to obtain quotes for short-term venue rentals and equipment in less than five minutes 365 days a year 24-hours a day. A policy can be purchased online and all associated documents can be downloaded in less than ten minutes. Given the flexibility of the online tool, theatre producers can purchase coverage on the day they need it. A large web development firm worked with Front Row to help bring the best product to market. 

Theatre insurancePolicy terms are for up to 4-weeks and coverage is provided anywhere in Canada. Equipment rental company and venue certificates are unlimited and provided for free. The certificates are delivered instantly. The program is available effective immediately across Canada. 

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The risks that can be covered are: rehearsing, producing or presenting a theatre, dance, opera or other live performance.

The SOLO Insurance program can be purchased online with a credit card and can include the following coverage for up to 4-weeks with no minimum premium:

  • Up to $5,000,000 in General Liability Coverage
  • Optional Theatrical Property coverage for Equipment, Props, Sets, and Wardrobe
  • Additional Insured certificates for your venue(s) for no additional cost.

“Small start-up theatre companies are the future of the theatre industry and the future of our business,” said David Hamilton, President + CEO of Front Row Insurance. “We wanted to find a way to lower the cost to insure their projects as much as possible and deliver the coverage with a minimal effort and time. Our soft launch test phase resulted in excellent feedback from producers.”

The website is:

About: Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc. is an independent entertainment insurance broker that works on behalf of live entertainment producers to transfer their risks to insurance companies for the lowest possible cost. Should a claim occur, Front Row ensures that the producer receives the money that they are owed per the insurance policy, as quickly as possible.

Topics: Live Show Insurance, Theatre Insurance

4 Easy Steps To Reading A Theatre Insurance Policy

Posted by Steve Beatty on Jul 23, 2015 1:38:00 PM


“You got it buddy, the large print giveth and the small print taketh away”

Tom WaitsStep Right Up


In the nearly 30 years I’ve been a theatre insurance broker, I’ve read many theatre insurance policies. Over those years, I’ve adopted an approach to help me determine what’s covered and what’s not, relatively quickly.

In today’s post, I thought I would share these very simple tips with you. They will make you feel more comfortable with the policy you are buying and help you form better questions when discussing the coverage with your broker or dealing with a claim.

Before we begin, it’s important to know there are four essential parts of any Theatre Insurance Policy. For the purpose of this discussion, I will be referring to a "Broad Form" type of policy (often referred to as an ‘All Risks’ policy; a terrible name by the way, as I’ve yet to see a policy that covers everything!) This type of policy has become the most common in the industry and is generally considered a broader form of coverage than a ‘Specified or Named Perils’ policy. Broad Form policies outline what type of claims you will NOT be insured against; whereas, a Specified Perils policy outlines the types of claims which are insured by the policy.

So here we go:

  1. Start with the Insuring Agreement: it’s here that the insurance company tells you what they are insuring. These are generally short and you will see certain words identified with italics, or bold or capitalized letters; policies will use this as a way of telling the reader that these words have a broader meaning which are defined elsewhere in the policy, usually under a section titled Definitions;
  2. Move on to the Definitions: Definitions broaden a single word or words beyond the common-use meaning, to define what it means in your policy. For example, the word ‘Insured’, may be broadened to include your corporation, employees, officers, volunteers, shareholders, etc. Using Definitions makes reading the policy less repetitive and easier to read. Sometimes a definition will also tell what it doesn’t mean, so watch that.
  3. Now, read the Exclusions: It is here where your coverage is shaped and the insurance company tells you what will NOT be covered by your policy. Some insurance companies have this under a section referred to as ‘What’s Not Covered’, or ‘Causes of Loss Not Covered’. Often I’m asked the question, “So what are we covered for?” While this is a great question, to me it’s more important to know what you are NOT covered for as it there where the surprises live. This is why I read the Exclusions. Sometimes you will find there are exclusions specific to certain sections of your policy, and then there are some known as General Exclusions which apply to your ENTIRE policy. If you see an exclusion that you don’t like or you feel it too greatly restricts your coverage, be sure to raise this with your broker. Some exclusions can be removed by paying an additional premium for the added coverage.
  4. And finally, look for ‘Endorsements’: these are used by insurance companies to modify their standard policies. They can broaden or restrict your coverage. They can usually be found listed in the front section of your policy known as your ‘Policy Declarations’.These are the front sheets on your policy where the insurance company lists your insured amounts, deductibles and premiums.

There will be other parts of the policy called Statutory Conditions and General Conditions. While these are important, they are generally common to most policies and can be read once you have tackled the parts I’ve listed above.

And one final tip: when it comes to making a claim under a Broad Form policy, it is your insurance company that has the responsibility to establish that one of the exclusions applies to your claim. Any ambiguity will be read in your favour as they were the ones who created the policy wording. By contrast a Named or Specified Perils policy requires YOU to demonstrate that your claim has resulted from one of the insured loss types specified in your policy.

By using these 4 simple tips you will quickly be able to understand your policy, feel more comfortable with it, and be able to ask questions that may help broaden your insurance protection.

We have an easy online low-cost insurance solution for Canadian producers who are renting theatre space and equipment for a short period:

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Topics: Theatre Insurance

Elmo and Film Production Liability Insurance

Posted by Steve Beatty on Jul 20, 2015 10:53:00 AM

What could Elmo have to do with General Liability Insurance for Film Production?

Elmo: General Liability Insurance for Film ProductionRoyalty-free stock photo ID: 1527200630, Shutterstock

A legendary Sesame Street character loved by generations of children. Along with Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, he is an icon whose scraggly red face will never be forgotten. All of this was called into question two years ago, however, when Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash was charged with sexually abusing a minor.

It has been a long and arduous battle in court, but on the heels of his final charges being dropped, it only makes sense to discuss how production liability insurance for television can protect projects from these kinds of charges.

First let us mention that most production liability insurance policies will exclude claims related to sexual abuse. This means that claims will not be paid and organizations where an employee has been charged will be left without protection. Our actONE program includes this coverage to protect the organizations only. The employee is not protected as illegal acts are uninsurable. Having said this we will cover all trial costs if he/she is found not guilty.

One of the other major features of the policy we provide is Public Relations Coverage. This foots the bill for any expenses incurred in hiring a public relations expert to manage the reputation damage that comes with sexual abuse claims.

So, what can you do to protect your organization?

Firstly, criminal background checks are a great form of due diligence that can prove you were as careful as possible in the event of a law suit. We encourage them particularly where theatres offer educational workshops involving minors.

Lastly, for projects in theatre film or television,  if anyone under the age of 18 will be on set in the company of adults employed by you, it is crucial that you divulge this to your broker in advance.

We can’t protect against what we don’t know about, and in cases like this…

One error can break you.

Topics: production liability insurance for films, Theatre Insurance

Theatre Insurance: Make A Potential Disaster A Minor Inconvenience

Posted by Steve Beatty on Jul 16, 2015 10:43:00 AM

theatre insurance

There is nothing like a night out at the theatre.

Theatre InsuranceGetting dressed up in a fine outfit. Hiring a babysitter for the kids. And being swept away in a dark room that allows you to forget about real life, if only for a few hours, is well worth the price of admission. The idea that anything could shatter the illusion is unconscionable. “What could ever go wrong?” you might ask. At a UK production of “Grumpy Old Women,” the audience found out the hard way.

At Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre, the audience was evacuated due to a pyrotechnic mishap that occurred well before intermission. Frustrated theatre goers spilled out onto nearby Regent street as firemen arrived promptly at the scene. Despite its challenges, like many great stories of the theatre, this one has a happy ending.

Ultimately  the fire was put out and the show went on as planned. Since we’re in the insurance industry however, let’s have a look at some hypotheticals.

More than almost any other hazard, fire shows just how important it is that a theatre carry good production liability insurance. Had the pyrotechnic mishap gotten out of control the damage to property and more importantly people could have been immeasurable. While key person insurance would have protected the lead actors, and the company’s theatre insurance would have covered sets, and costumes, without the proper liability limits an out-of-control fire is enough to draw the curtain on any business due to its potential to cause personal injury.  Furthermore one production’s damage to a theatre has implications for said theatres future productions and revenue streams, all of which need to be protected.

At Front Row, we always make sure our theatres have air-tight insurance coverage in every respect so that ‘potential disaster’ is reduced to ‘minor inconvenience.’

In the end, “Grumpy Old Women” proved more comedy than tragedy.

We have an easy online low cost insurance solution for Canadian producers who are renting theatre space and equipment for a short period:

Get a quote in 2 minutes

Topics: Theatre Insurance

Cast Insurance For Live Performances

Posted by Steve Beatty on Jul 9, 2015 10:08:00 AM


Cast insurance - woman actor

Here’s a scenario:

You successfully pitched the project, secured the financing, cast a couple of great lead actors in the roles and now you need to get all of the other pieces in place for the show. Of course you need some production insurance, and on this show you want some Cast Insurance on your two leads. They’re both integral to the show and it would bad for you and your investors if an illness, injury, or worse, was to prevent one or both of them from appearing. It’s not a long run; scheduling will make it hard to extend it, so insurance is the way to go to cover the financial exposure of something going wrong with the actors.

You connect with the broker and he tells you a medical will be required on each actor. You think, “No problem - both are young and healthy”, but your contract with them doesn’t say anything about insurance. One of their agents pushes back, but in the end it’s agreed that the actor will see the doctor.

The medical is received, but … (as the reader, I’m sure you knew there was going to be a ‘but’ coming) … when the insurance company reviews it, they make note of a history of a medical condition that concerns them. The underwriter researches it and speaks with her company’s consulting physician and learns that the condition is exacerbated by stress and can really flair up if the person becomes fatigued. This is a rigorous and physical show with 6 shows a week. You begin to be concerned.

The insurers decide this is a risk they don’t want to insure. Now your concern elevates. The financial risk is high and, if the health condition becomes an issue, you will likely need to cancel the show as there won’t be time to re-cast and rehearse a new actor into the remaining scheduled performances.

As a broker, I have seen this scenario play out many times. So how can it be avoided? What are the steps a Producer can take to protect themselves from facing a major insurance policy exclusion that leaves them with a big financial exposure?

I recommend that Producers start thinking about Cast Insurance when they are budgeting their show. If you aren’t able to work the cost of understudies or swings into your budget, or if the success of the run could be affected by the loss of a lead-role actor, then you should be including Cast Insurance as a line item in your show budget.


  • Put it in the contract. Your deal memos or engagement agreements should always address the insurability of the actor and should secure their consent to see an approved physician for a medical exam.
  • Talk to your lawyer. A pre-signed medical would be ideal, but this could leave you with a discrimination exposure if you decide not to hire based on the findings. It may be appropriate under certain circumstances, but talk to your lawyer before going down this path. Sometimes the process of negotiating the medical and insurability clause will open a discussion about something that could present an insurance issue.
  • Medical & health-related information obtained through a cast medical is extremely valuable. As Producer, you will be privy to information about conditions which could affect the actor and impact your show.
  • Cast Medical Insurance can exclude pre-existing health conditions, drug, alcohol & substance abuse, psychological disorders and performance issues such as voice or movement-related issues. If your financial risk is too high because of a health-related exclusion then you need to be able to rely on your contract with the actor to provide you with a remedy. Without the protection of a contract, you may have to accept the exposure of a policy exclusion.
  • Think about their family. The death of an immediate family member during the run will result in the actor needing to take time away from your show. How will you address this? Your insurance coverage can include Family Bereavement coverage to help deal with the costs of an unexpected cancellation, postponement or interruption.
  • Build a schedule that works. When faced with an insurance exclusion, think about how you can schedule your shows to allow time for the person to care for themselves or time for health-care support. Be sure that the actor can maintain their usual health protocols while on your show: their personal wellness is a priority.

Cast insurance can be a key component of managing the financial risks of a show. It can be used effectively to pay committed production expenses, reimburse pre-production costs and pay for sunk expenses such as media & marketing, and it can be used to pay additional costs associated with re-casting or re-scheduling shows. But, you need to have good information that enables you to develop a contingency plan for dealing with a problem if it occurs.

As with most things, information and communication are key to structuring a plan for managing cast-related risks, so open the dialogue early, build the insurance costs into your budget, and go out and cast those amazing actors in your show.

Topics: Cast Insurance, Live Show Insurance, Theatre Insurance, Actor body insurance