A Musician’s Guide to PLI

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Encore’s latest guide to navigating the non-musical aspects of the industry covers Public Liability Insurance (PLI).

Insurance is one of those things that most musicians are aware of but don’t quite understand how it works or where to get it. It can seem very easy to ignore – you’re busy practising, teaching, performing, travelling, and doing so many other things, that making the time to research and buy insurance can seem like a low priority.

The following blog post will shed some light on what PLI is and why it’s so crucial for any performing musician. If you’re a member of a union, you almost certainly already have PLI. If not, it’s relatively cheap to get coverage.

What is PLI?

PLI stands for Public Liability Insurance, which covers damage to another person or their property. It is also known as third party insurance. There are companies which specialise in providing PLI that protects musicians while they are working – performing, teaching, auditioning, and composing. Imagine your cello spike gouged the floor of a venue, or a member of the audience was injured because they tripped over your amp wires – insurance would protect you against this.

Why do you need PLI?

If you are a performer or teacher, many venues and schools will require PLI to allow you to work. Even if it’s not required, it’s not expensive, it’s a tax-deductible business expense if you’re self-employed, and it provides peace of mind.

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“I would not hire a musician for one of my client’s weddings unless they had Public Liability Insurance. Knowing that we have this protection is one less thing to worry about and allows me to focus on making sure the event runs smoothly.”

Sarah Kirby, Something White Weddings and Events

How do you get PLI?

If you are a member of Equity, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) or the Musicians’ Union (MU), you automatically have PLI of up to £10 million cover.

If you aren’t a member of one of these organisations, you can purchase insurance privately. The MU’s insurance is through Hencilla Canworth, and you can get a quote on their site for public liability, including employers’ liability cover (see next question).

Allianz also offers PLI, with prices ranging from around £36 – £130/year for £1 million – £5 million cover. However, many venues require £10 million cover, which is included with a membership in Equity, the ISM, and the MU. As membership fees are set at similar prices to PLI prices, it may make more sense for you to join one of those organisations instead of purchasing PLI separately.

Do I need PLI for each member of my band?

Yes. There are two ways of doing this:
1. Each member of your group gets their own individual coverage and provides individual PLI certificates to venues.
2. Purchase group insurance under the name of the group. If you ever employ deps, you will need to also purchase employers’ liability insurance so that anyone who plays with the band is covered in the blanket policy.

What is a Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) certificate?

Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use. While a PAT is not a legal requirement, it proves that you have done everything possible to maintain your equipment properly, which would help satisfy your PLI provider that they should pay your claim. Many venues also now require a PAT certificate before they will allow you to play.

What is personal accident cover?

Personal accident cover protects you in case of injury caused by and while you are working as a musician. In the case of a claim, you would receive payment for any loss of limb, eye, permanent disability or death. Some companies include it with PLI and others have it as a separate option. Some policies will also provide cover for lost earnings due to injury – also see our Musician’s Guide to Dealing with Injury.

This post does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your insurance requirements with your provider.


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