Live music's return in Ontario threatened by rising insurance costs

Industry figure reveals just how much policy costs have risen for some venues

Live music's return in Ontario threatened by rising insurance costs

Commercial Solutions

By Duffie Osental

After overcoming the challenges of pandemic-driven lockdowns, Ontario’s surviving music venues now face a new challenge: rising insurance costs.

In an interview with CBC Radio, Erin Benjamin, chief executive officer of the Canadian Live Music Association, said that the province’s music halls have been reporting surging insurance prices and “untenable” policy conditions, such as earlier closing hours.

According to Benjamin, the situation has become so dire that many venues have chosen to avoid taking on insurance for live music events, leaving them exposed to lawsuits should something go wrong.

“You can get insurance if you’re willing to pay, in some cases – and this is not a made-up number – 4,000% higher than what you may have paid before,” said Benjamin told CBC Radio. “They’re not all that high, but they’re certainly higher than pre-pandemic amounts.”

Lockdown restrictions closed many live music venues during Ontario’s second wave late last year – and at the time many of the province’s music halls said that they were being denied commercial liability insurance coverage.

In an open letter to Ontario finance minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, Joel Harden, the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) member of provincial parliament (MPP) for Ottawa Centre, urged the provincial government to take “immediate action” on the issue. Bethlenfalvy also told CBC that insurers should either offer competitive plans or be required to do so by the province.

“It’s a warning to the industry – if you’re not going to come to the plate and help brokers and small businesses, governments need to compel them to act,” Harden told CBC.

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