The biggest obstacle to going back to concerts? It could be getting liability insurance.

A year ago in the midst of pandemic hell, a lot of people asked me when I thought we’d be able to go back to concerts. Along with the usual concerns–social distancing, masking, sanitizing stations, safety protocols for staff, and limits on capacity–I brought up the problem of insurance. I postulated that venues would have a very hard time finding any kind of liability coverage in a post-COVID world.

Dammit. It turns out I was right.

According to a report by the CBC, a lot of venues can’t find insurance at an affordable price. Take the case of Toronto’s Garrison Tavern. In the decade leading up to COVID, the venue’s insurance costs increased by 400%. That’s a lot, but it took ten years to reach that level. But now that the Garrison is looking toward getting back to business, they’re getting quotes of 300-400% higher than where things were before the pandemic hit.

Then there’s the matter of the legendary Horseshoe Tavern. Owner Jeff Cohen says he can’t get any liability insurance at any price. I quote: “If I have no liability insurance by the new year, I’ll consider moving to another province.”

Toronto without The Horseshoe? Blasphemy.

A big part of the issues is that small live music venues are lumped into the same insurance categories as dance clubs, venues that insurance companies deem as high-risk. None of the insurers break things out specific to live music venues.

Another problem? Even though they’ve been closed for 16 months, the insurance companies have insisted that they continue to pay their premiums in full and on time.

If there’s any good news in this, it’s that the City of Toronto is stepping between some 90 music venues and the insurance companies in order to find a solution.

Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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