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Public Liability Insurance


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#1 mrbouffant

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 07:54

I've been playing the organ at a secular venue for the last 10 years, mostly for civil weddings (and the occasional corporate function).

 

All of a sudden, I am being asked to prove I have Public Liability Insurance. As I understand it, this is there to cover me if I cause injury to somebody or damage to their property in the course of my organ playing. I don't think my playing is that bad that I would cause mental injury, so what would the point of it be?

 

This seems ludicrous to me. What are your thoughts?


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#2 elemimele

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 08:23

sounds like a paper-pusher has got a fit of box-ticking going on. I've met organists who are a public liability but I wouldn't for a moment assume you're one of them, MrBouffant, given that they still want you after 10 years' experience. What are you supposed to do? Fall off the organ bench and land on someone? I can think of lots of ways in which an organ-containing venue could harm someone (tripping, bits dropping off building etc.,) but I can't think of any way in which an organist can harm someone in a venue without the assistance of the venue. A clarinettist could go wild and start hitting people with their instrument. A brass-player could just about infect people with strange gooey saliva-related gunk blown from their instrument. But it takes real talent to harm someone with a fixed organ. It's more a case of whether they've got the insurance than you have.


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#3 Dotty old crotchet

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 09:27

I have absolutely no specialist knowledge and actually agree with the previous answer... except...

How will you deal with the solicitor claiming his client told you she had changed her mind about going down the aisle to Beyonce's 'Single Lady' and wanted 'March to the scaffold' from Symphonie Fantastique instead? The WHOLE WEDDING was RUINED!

If you had insurance you'd avoid a lot of hassle.
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#4 musicalmalc

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 11:07

Are you using an instrument provided by the venue or are you taking an electronic contraption of some kind ?


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#5 mrbouffant

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 11:14

It's the venue's instrument. I just sit up in the loft, out of the way.


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#6 musicalmalc

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 11:29

It's the venue's instrument. I just sit up in the loft, out of the way.

 

That is most peculiar then. Definitely smacks of jobsworth who doesn't really understand.

 

If you were a mobile DJ bringing in equipment and having cables trailing or an outside caterer perhaps then it would make sense but not for your situation.

 

Do you know anyone else who plays the instrument that you can contact to see if they have been asked for liability insurance?

Failing that request more details from the venue manager.


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#7 Tenor Viol

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 11:50

This is utter rot. As noted above, if you were bringing instaging and equipment etc then possibly (and I'd argue it's the venue's problem). Agree it's a box ticker without a clue
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#8 Barry Williams

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 13:36

I doubt if you could get insurance for this situation where there is no discernable risk.  Insurance is against a risk.  ( As opposed to (Life) Assurance, which tends to be also an investment.)

 

A way forward might be to ask the venue exactly what the risk to be insured is.

 

Barry Williams


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#9 Oboedad

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 14:41

The venue may be covering themselves against any damage you might do to their property - who pays if you damage the organ in the course of playing etc? Given the litigious nature of the 'where there's blame there's a claim' society and the increasing costs of insurance it may be that the venue has a clause in it's policy that requires anyone on the premises for business purposes (I'm assuming you are paid for playing) need to have separate Public Liability cover.


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#10 Keyhorn

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 13:27

If you have membership of either the ISM or the MU you will automatically have Public Liability Insurance.


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#11 Aquarelle

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 20:40

I remember seeing on French television a detective story in which someone was murdered by an organist who managed to kill the victim by bursting both his ear drums !    sad.png

 

Perhaps insurance would have provided the organist with a good lawyer?


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#12 LoneM

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 22:08

Once upon a time, long long ago, I had access to a fairly large organ in an old parish church. With memories of Verdi's thunder effect in Otello I tried playing bottom C and C# together on the 32' stops. The resulting wallop shook the large stained glass window so hard that I thought it was going to break - nearly gave me a heart attack.

 

Don't try this unless you have insurance. laugh.png


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#13 elemimele

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 10:06

and then, of course, there's Dorothy L Sayers' book, "The nine tailors". Spoiler alert: if you intend to read this evocative book in the Lord Peter Wimsey series (very far from the average whodunit) stop reading here... it turns out the 'murdered' man died by being tied up in a bell-chamber while the bells were rung for a New Year peal (where indeed Wimsey had been drafted in to replace a sick ringer; this is the only whodunit I know, where the detective is unwittingly one of those who killed the victim).

 

From a congregational point of view, having witnessed bells-versus-organ combat before a service, it's hard to tell which is the greater public liability...


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#14 Kai-Lei

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 12:49

Sounds weird. I don't play the organ officially though I may soon be getting a Wyvern one to do better with the pedals etc and organs do make a grand noise...

but I play piano at receptions, clubs and a studio and have never been asked about Public Liability Insurance.  


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#15 Swell Box

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Posted 24 October 2017 - 08:14

I have absolutely no specialist knowledge and actually agree with the previous answer... except...

How will you deal with the solicitor claiming his client told you she had changed her mind about going down the aisle to Beyonce's 'Single Lady' and wanted 'March to the scaffold' from Symphonie Fantastique instead? The WHOLE WEDDING was RUINED!

If you had insurance you'd avoid a lot of hassle.


I am not a Lawyer, but as I understand the situation, Public Liability Insurance would not provide any cover if you were to 'ruin' the wedding by playing the wrong music, or even if you were to play the right music badly. That would be a Contract matter.

However, if you were to play so badly, and/or so loudly that you caused a crush at the exit doors you might well be liable for the injuries caused. smile.png

Public Liability Insurance exists to compensate 'third parties' in the event of damage or injury caused by the acts or omissions of the Insured. Public Liability Insurance is increasingly being expected of 'outside contractors' by all manner of organisations, and especially government departments and local authorities, which I suspect is why the box has been ticked against your name.

As an example, I occasionally work for a large defence contractor at a site in Plymouth. I am not even allowed to attend a meeting there without proving, in advance, that I have £10 million PL Insurance!

For my sins, I am also Treasurer of our church 'Friends' organisation, which organises regular visits to places of interest, social events and so forth. All of the venues and coach firms involved have their own PLI, so in theory the Friends probably doesn't need its own cover. However, given the present claim culture it was decided that the Friends should stump up the £180 per year required, which would at least cover the cost of defending the Friends against a Vexatious Litigant should the situation arise. I suspect this is the stance of the OP's Clients.

However, in answer to the OP's direct question, an injury occurred at our local church when the Organist accidentally elbowed a copy of Complete Mission Praise from the ledge behind him (whilst turning around to look at the Priest), sending it flying down to the Quire around six feet below where it hit an elderly lady.

In the event no claim was made, but if the Organist was held to be an 'Outside Contractor' (rather than an 'Employee of the church') then presumably he or she could have been liable for any damages if this was not covered by the Church's insurance?
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