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The Guide

Public liability insurance

It may be important for freelance artists and creatives to take out a public liability insurance policy - namely, when they own their own business, for example, a cabaret or a gallery. Public liability insurance covers personal injuries, property damage, and resulting financial losses that occur vis-a-vis a third party as part of the operating activities. Such a policy covers not only the owners of a company but also every single employee. When concluding the insurance contract, business owners should describe the nature and scope of their professional activities as precisely as possible because the coverage will only extend to what is contained in the policy. The premiums can vary greatly and depend on various factors, such as the number of employees and the annual salaries. Purchasing insurance through an independent insurance broker is recommended to avoid inadequate insurance coverage and excessive premiums. 

Coverage of insurances purchased in Germany usually only applies in Germany (or national insurances in the respective country). The insurance coverage must be extended accordingly if work is carried out abroad, for example, when a play or an orchestra goes on tour. Specialized solutions are available.

A visitor trips over a loose, inadequately secured cable during an exhibition in a gallery and is injured. 


This is considered a personal injury for which the owner of the gallery or the employee who laid the cable can be held liable. If the gallery owner has public liability insurance, the insurance company will cover the claims. 


During a performance, a freelance dancer trips on an improperly laid dance floor in the theater and injures himself.


This is also considered a personal injury for which the theater or the employee who laid the dance floor can be held liable, since the theater or the employee failed to fulfill the required duty of care.
The dancer therefore claims for damages from the theater, seeking compensation for pain and suffering or loss of earnings, for example. The dancer's health insurance provider will also seek to recover treatment and follow-up costs from the theater. These may be very high depending on the severity of the injury.
The public liability insurance of the theater would cover the above case if the risk associated with performances is specified in the risk description and is therefore included in the insurance coverage


A freelance performance artist performs at a theater. She injures a member of the audience when stage components accidentally fall into the auditorium.


In this case, one would first have to check who is responsible for the damages. 
If the stage components were improperly secured by the theater, the public liability insurance of the theater will cover the damages – but only if performances were included in the risk description.
If the theater is not culpable, the performance artist is liable and her professional liability insurance must pay for the damages. 



  • Public liability insurance does not automatically cover all damages incurred during a performance. However, performances may certainly be incorporated into an existing public liability insurance policy. Premiums will increase accordingly, depending on the size and frequency of the performances in question. If events will also be held abroad, this must be taken into account when submitting the insurance application.
  • Ensemble, orchestras or collectives can also take out public liability insurance that includes performances. However, an organizer's liability insurance policy would be more suitable for independent groups that do not have their own venue or any salaried employees, as it is the more affordable alternative.