How did you get into this industry?
I played (and I still play) bass and keyboards in a band and insurance was the only job that offered flexi-time at that time. It meant I could play a gig in the evening, travel back late at night and get into the office a bit later the following morning.
Why did La Playa specialise in arts and entertainment?
I was a partner at a regional insurance broker, and was starting to handle some music risks. As a musician myself, I realised that too many creative organisations were buying insurance policies that were the wrong shape, the wrong size and the wrong price. So we set up La Playa to support clients with truly specialist policies, expert advice and genuinely personal service. Our private client portfolio also includes many musicians, writers and creative folk.
What do you look for when brokering for a theatre company?
We’ve designed a scheme for performing arts companies (Performing Arts Portfolio), which covers just about every angle of risk under a single policy. We can cover almost any theatre company that comes our way, but we like to work with well organised, well run venues, experienced tour managers, and organisations that take their risks seriously, with good practices in risk assessment and well developed health and safety policies.
How do you arrange partnerships with art associations?
We work closely with sector trade associations like the Association of British Orchestras; Association of Festival Organisers; British Arts Festivals Association; and the International Artist Managers Association. It’s a great way to stay on top of the risk-related and broader issues in the sector and, in turn, we get the opportunity to help educate our market in the dark arts of risk management and insurance. For example, we’re currently organising a
seminar around box office data ownership in response to the new General Data Protection Regulation laws.
What issues affect arts and entertainment brokerage?
Arts funding is a significant factor. We tend to work with a lot of non-profit arts organisations, and when their funding takes a hit they have to scale down their operations so the insured sums can yo-yo somewhat. Cancellation is a significant issue – for example weather, power-outs, denial of access to venues and such-like. So contingency insurance is key to our offering.
Increasingly, terrorist threats are a cancellation issue, even for false alarms, so we’re encouraging entertainment clients to buy terrorism cover.
What is the most unusual area of your business?
We hold an unusual position as one of the few non-alpha brokers with offices in both the UK and the US. We have an office in New York, and we’re just in the process of opening in San Francisco. So we can offer genuinely international capability while remaining small enough to provide boutique-style, personal service.
What is the most unusual request for brokerage you have had?
We have unusual requests all the time. The other day I heard my colleague placing cover for a fashion shoot, asking “And does the cobra have an understudy?”.
Where next for La Playa?
Our key focus is on growth and internationalisation and we are aiming to treble in size within five years. We’re in the process of becoming a Lloyd’s broker and, as our clients become increasingly global, we need to reflect that. The transatlantic operation has also opened up a new area of business for us – many UK brokers are now placing US client risks through us and US brokers are using us for UK placement. The next territory is Singapore, gateway to the East, and a key hub for tech, media and the arts. Watch this space!