The live music industry in the midst of an insurance crisis

Leadbeater Hotel owners Mark Omizzolo and Joe Downey are struggling to find an affordable insurer. -Image of PR document

Concert halls are in the midst of another crisis as insurance companies strip them of coverage.

At least 30 venues across the country are facing insurance renewal issues, according to the Australian Live Music Business Council.

While some have faced premium hikes of up to 300% due to fears of being in a high-risk industry, others have tried to renew after years with their provider only to get pulled out altogether. insurance.

The council is working with companies to find overseas insurers, with Australian providers unable to offer suitable policies.

The live music industry has been dogged by longstanding misconceptions about the risks associated with venues, and it has worsened in the wake of COVID-19, the council said.

“We’re using the data we’ve collected from these sites on their complaints history to essentially say that this is not a high-risk environment,” said the council’s chief executive, Phil Brown. , at the AAP.

“The messaging around the nature of risk in live music hasn’t been helped one bit throughout COVID, but it also goes to this really tired assumption that a live music venue is full of sex, drugs and rock and roll.”

Mr Brown said small and medium-sized venues were the “incubators” of musical talent in Australia.

The owners of the Leadbeater Hotel in Richmond in Melbourne were forced to search for a new supplier for a week after their insurance company‘s overseas-based underwriter rejected their renewal in May.

A final swipe at a reasonably priced policy was pushed back Friday afternoon, leaving them with a premium 10 times the cost of last year’s policy.

“(Other companies) will insure us if we agree to be just a pub and not a music venue, which is not allowed for us,” co-owner Joe Downey said.

“And then the other option is to just become a venue, and you can only operate during paid show times.”

The problem is not exclusive to the live music industry.

The entertainment industry is on the brink of collapse due to skyrocketing insurance premiums, according to Australian Amusement Association vice-president Damian De Jong.

The number of insurers willing to cover attractions has dropped significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

Mr De Jong, who owns his own entertainment company Action Events Group, already spends more than 20% of his company’s turnover on liability insurance alone.

A pre-COVID insurance premium of $20,000 can now reach $100,000.

“We keep the kids active; we get them running, having a good time,” De Jong said.

“It’s not far from disappearing.”

The Insurance Council of Australia said a tough market means underlying capital is harder to come by and reinsurance is more expensive.

“This impacts the availability and affordability of liability insurance in certain markets, including the entertainment industry and for certain operators of tourist attractions and licensed sites,” a spokesperson said.

“There is no silver bullet to solve these problems, and solutions, where they exist, require a concerted effort between insurers, businesses and government.”

The council and insurers were working with business representatives to improve the affordability and availability of insurance, they said.

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