Music Jul 3, 2013 at 4:00 am

Bands Get Ripped Off All the Time, So Why Doesn't Anyone Have Insurance?

Insured his gear after learning the hard way. jenny jimenez


What were folk rockers doing with $40,000 dollars worth of gear?

1) Someone stays in the van with the gear.
2) Someone stays in the van with the gear.
3) Someone stays in the van with the gear.

Picking up what I'm putting down?
I have $10K of classical music gear insured through State Farm. It's $65/year and covers everything (theft from anywhere, fire, flood, accidental damage, you name it). Totally affordable and worthwhile, and your renters/homeowners company will do this for you, too. And probably give you a discount.
Hey guys, lets leave tens of thousands of dollars of gear in a van that's covered in crappy stickers.


I think a renters insurance policy for no more than $300/yr would cover up to $50K worth of gear, including your TV, computer,bikes yadda yadda.
Huh. I asked my State Farm insurance agent a few years ago about getting my gear insured. He told me that they don't insure music gear, and that no insurance company would insure it. Sounds like I need to find a new insurance company.
Because when I think about responsibility, forethought and responsible financial management, the first thing that comes to mind is young, struggling, traveling musicians.

"I could spend this $50 on a year's worth of coverage for my gear, or I could put $50 worth of gas in the van to drive to that gig in Omaha that only pays $45."
A combo of Renters + Auto insurance can cover a lot already, if you pay attention to your policy.

You can often identify "valuable property" to be insured separately (or in addition to)for about $5 a month.

I'm starting to have less and less sympathy for bands that leave their stuff unattended in parked vans. Come on.
Renter's insurance won't help you if you're a gigging musician. Most renter's insurance policies specifically exclude coverage of gear that's taken out of the house to perform with. They consider it professional equipment and won't insure it without a special commercial rider.
Can't they write a folksy song about the po' downtrodden folks reduced to stealing their gear to feed their families livin' in a shack down by the train tracks?
This is confusing:

"There's a sort of happy ending to this one, though. Orlowski passed around the list of missing gear via social media and music blogs, and thankfully a pawn shop employee recognized the items. Orlowski was able to buy back almost all his stolen gear for about $500."

So the pawn shop knowingly sold Orlowski's stolen items back to him - that is, knowingly sold stolen goods? How did that work?
Even if you can't/won't buy insurance having an accurate inventory of gear including serial numbers is still useful for recovering your gear and possibly aiding the prosecution of thieves if is recovered. Many police departments circulate lists of stolen items to pawn shops, used equipment buyers, etc.
@4 - Definitely recommended for all renters, but if you're a "professional" musician, which to actuaries means playing shows for money, you'll need a separate policy for your gear should it be stolen from anywhere outside your home. Same is true for camera gear, or whatever expensive hobbies you might have involving things that aren't glued down.

Also, the Lumineer's missing gear wasn't theft, it was mercy.
@10, the pawn shop probably said "hey, we paid $500 for this stuff, we can sell it to you at cost."
If it truly happens "all the time", i.e. you can expect your gear to be stolen on a regular basis, then insurance makes no sense. The price for an insurance policy will be its expected payout (probability of the event times its cost) plus bit more for the insurer's overhead and profit. So if the event is expected (probability goes to one), the price of the insurance will be slightly higher than the cost of regular replacement. Insurance makes sense for events that are unlikely to ever happen to you, but financially catastrophic if they do.
I had a $300 guitar stolen last year and I'm still pissed about it. I can't imagine having 10s of thousands of dollars worth taken.

But you have to be careful. A lot of insurance policies specifically exclude musical instruments. Know what kind of insurance you're buying or else you may think you're covered, then get a nasty surprise when you go to collect.
@10/@13 That's exactly what happened. Orlowski had to cover the cost that the pawn shop owner paid. The person selling the stuff said it was his and gave his information, so so long as it was legit info, the police will catch up with him.
All stolen gear stories are the same: bands leave a ton of valuable shit unattended in a vehicle. Always have someone with the gear, always unload everything, every night. While it could happen, I've yet to hear about someone getting their stuff stolen from inside a hotel room.

Renter's/homeowner's insurance WILL NOT cover your gear if you perform publicly--you need to purchase separate insurance from a specialized provider. Unless you're some "folk rockers" with $40k of custom shop electric guitars with you, it'll run ~$500 year.
I will pipe in here as the owner of The Guitar Store. Always take pictures of your serial numbers on your gear, make sure you save it in a file named "stuff I own" or the like. Get replacement estimates from dealers for collectable goods to keep on file. When you are on tour bring your guitars, mics and other small goods in to the hotel you are staying at. Remember car + guitar= bad. In the 20 years I have worked in shops 90 percent of all stolen gear I have heard of was in someones car. It blows me away how many people do not insure collections.
tl;dr Don't leave anything of value unattended inside your motor vehicle, EVER. And get your stuff insured.
your rehearsal space is also a target. people know when you're about to tour, etc. I learned the hard way not to blab about where you're band is going and for how long. came back from 2 weeks on the road and the rehearsal space door was kicked in and the pa and a bunch of instruments got ripped off. Immediately got MusicPro for the gear we luckily had on the road, but too late.
The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) insurance with Marsh Affinity offers: Claims based on actual replacement cost; Coverage for theft; Coverage for equipment when it's off premises or in transit.

Instrument insurance is tax-deductible, as a normal business expense.

AFM members get a great insurance plan including, as well as local and national benefits.……

Unfortunately, no one in America has cheap healthcare right now; but Seattle musicians have access to very affordable dental insurance ($28.25 per month) through the local Musicians' Union.…

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