Lack of Insurance Closes
by Bob Brooke
promoter Sally Driscoll had to
suspend all of her future shows because of lack of liability insurance on the
part of her dealers. After doing two shows annually for over 25
years, and more recently adding a third show, the requirement that all
of her dealers had to have liability insurance came as a big surprise.
The big problem for
Driscoll wasnít getting insurance. She could only obtain promoterís
liability insurance if all of her dealers also had business liability
insurance. "They didnít want to spend the money getting it since
they didnít feel it was necessary," she said.
The policy would have
cost her $500 for $1 million which was also the bottom line she needed
as the show manager. It would have covered her for nine days a year,
plus the show had to be in the same location and the dates had to be the
same each year, and she needed proof that all of her dealers had
"Many dealers are
under the impression that the show promoterís policy covers
them," said Jim Tucker, the director of the Antiques and
Collectibles Associations of Davidson, North Carolina. "In most
instances, thatís not the case. If a dealer is named in a lawsuit, he
would be responsible for obtaining his own lawyer and paying his own
Representatives of the
venue where Driscoll held her shows explained to her that if someone in a show sat on a chair and
it broke resulting in a broken leg or arm or a concussion, the person
injured would attempt to sue the dealer. If the dealer didn't have
insurance, the victim would use the venue. The venue's
insurance company didn't think it should have to pay for the injury
because if there wasnít an antique show in the building, the person
wouldnít have gotten injured. The bottom line was that the venue's insurance company didnít want the liability of
dealers. Thus, Driscoll's insurance company refused to cover her unless
all of her dealers have liability insurance.
Driscoll also noted that
the venue had had a law suit brought up against
them for someone falling in their kitchen. "I believe this is what
prompted them to tell me I and my dealers had to get insurance,"
she said. "I think more dealers should be made aware of how
important insurance is to them. Youíd be surprised how many dealers
donít have any insurance at all."
have been surprised at the lack of dealer interest in insurance, Allison Steeves,
an agent with Steeves, Smith and Associates, Inc., of Monroe,
Connecticut, the agency who handles the insurance program for the
Professional Show Managerís Association, Inc. (PSMA), wasnít.
"The problem is that antique dealers donít look at themselves as
business people," she said. "Based on the contracts they sign
for their booths, any exposure makes them liable."
The PSMA offers dealers
participating in a manager member show a relatively low premium (around
$60) for $1 million
coverage for that show. An annual policy for the same coverage costs a
minimum of $350. But according to Mitch Sorenson, executive director of
the association, the insurance program has met with resistance from
dealers, who feel there isnít a need.
An alternative to special
liability insurance for antique dealers is an excess liability floater
added to a dealerís homeownerís personal liability insurance.
Dealers John and Judy Parke of Malvern, Pennsylvania, with $2 million in
coverage, chose this route. The Parkeís insurance agent, Mary Callahan
of Babb, Inc., Insurance Agency in Wayne, Pennsylvania, said the Parkes
already had $1 million in liability through their homeowners policy and
were able, for an additional $100 premium, to add a second million
through Chubb & Co.ís Excess Liability floater. "This covers
them anywhere in the world that they set up to sell antiques," said
Callahan. "This type of floater is especially good for those who
sell only at shows on a part-time basis. Most homeownerís policies
today offer some type of small business exposure [liability] because so
many people have businesses in the home. But every state is
Tucker noted that the
most common liability claims are slip and falls. "Though these have
proven to be the most serious claims, we have had dealers knock down
other dealers displays, customers cut by glass from display cabinets and
pictures blowing of the wall, light fixtures and radios shorting out and
starting fires, furniture collapsing or falling on customers and many
other things you never expect to happen."
Tucker tells dealers that
liability coverage is the most important one to have. "A dealer can
be sued for anything and for any amount," he added. "Even if a
dealer ultimately isnít held responsible, there can be huge legal
fees. But if a dealer is held libel for a serious injury, it could cost
him his house and/or every thing he owns, not just his business."
How much liability
coverage does a dealer need? "No matter how much or how little
dealers do in their business, they need liability coverage," said
Tucker. "It only takes one person, one slip and fall." While
some brokers recommend that a dealerís coverage match that of the
largest court award for a case relevant to the antique business, others
base recommendations on a dealerís assets. One million dollars is
usually a minimum.
property, which has a fixed value, liability claims donít have any
limitations. In this lawsuit-crazed society, the sky could indeed be the
limit. "Having insurance is a cost of doing business," said
Steeves. "When a dealer does a show, their booth becomes their
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