Are you ready for when something horrible happens?

Recently, we have seen lots of natural disasters. Living in Florida, it makes me think about what I would do if I lost everything because a hurricane went through. Am I ready for something horrible to happen?

Most musicians sink a lot of money into their gear. This is how they make a living! Sometimes, it took years and years to acquire this gear. Don’t let one horrible event wipe you out. I’ve seen too many stories about how a band had to call it quits because their gear was stolen, or damaged. They couldn’t continue to make a living, so they gave up their dreams to get regular jobs to pay the bills. If this sounds like you, then you need INSURANCE.

I have looked into a few different companies and I personally use Music PRO Insurance. Music Pro Insurance is a company developed by ASCAP, but you don’t need to be an ASCAP member to buy it. Their rates are reasonable and they are tailored for the musician. If you gear is stolen, lost, or damaged then you are covered.

Another good place to check out is MIS Underwriting who offers Musical Instrument Insurance.   They even offer a policy to cover your music collection!

My homeowners insurance covers my gear, right?

Some musicians just think their homeowners’ insurance or rental insurance will cover their gear. That might be true if your gear is at home, but what about when you are on the road. Some policies don’t cover things outside of the confines of your house or apartment. If you make money by using this gear also might require you to get a different policy on top of your other insurance as well. Ask your insurance agent to find out what exactly is covered and when.

Make a list of all of your gear. You can do this by writing it down with a pen and paper, or use a more tech-friendly way. If you are comfortable with EXCEL, Google SHEETS, or Numbers then you can make a simple spreadsheet to catalog your gear. I would include information such as purchase price, purchase date, and serial numbers for each item. This will make things a lot easier to report if things are lost or stolen.

My Gear Vault

There are also a couple of handy apps that are designed to catalog your gear. The first one is called My Gear Vault. This was created by Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo, and is more geared toward photography gear. I asked Jared if music gear could be added and he said, “Yup, you can use the app to store anything you want, just input the items in manually and you will be good to go.” My Gear Vault can also give you an insurance quote right from the app. One nice thing about this app is the ability to make what they call “kits.” If you only tour with part of your total gear, then you can make it into a kit. That way you know exactly what is out on the road with you.

American Family Insurance Dream Vault

Another app is the American Family Insurance Dream Vault. This was created by American Family Insurance, but does not require you to have a policy with them in order to use it. Like My Gear Vault, you will need to manually add the information for each piece of gear.

*UPDATE 9/15/2018 – The Dream Vault is being phased out. You will need to use a different resource to save your itemized list of gear.

Dweezil Zappa’s website, The Guitar Vaults, is another place you can list your guitar online. If one is ever stolen, then you can alert the website to be on the lookout for it. I am not sure if you can register other types of gear other than guitars. You can start with one guitar for free, and more will cost you. I would at least do the one for free for all you guitar players out there. Put your favorite ax in the database just to be safe.

Here are a couple of tips to be extra safe on the road.

  1. Don’t ever let somebody you don’t know “help” carry your gear. I’ve too many stories about a fan helping out and then the next day you realize that your stuff never made it to your van. Just say, “No thanks. We are good” if a stranger wants to help.
  2. I always made sure at least one of us from the band was at the vehicle during load in and load out. Never walk away from an open vehicle with your gear just sitting there. It is too tempting for somebody to just walk up and take something. Most of the time they will look like they are just part of the crew and won’t be questioned. I would drop off a piece of gear and wait until the next band member arrived with their piece of gear. Then I would head back in for another piece. That member would wait for the next member, and so on. We always had somebody on watch.
  3. Don’t leave gear visible in your vehicle. Sometimes, you don’t have a choice to always keep it with you. If you do leave it behind then try to camouflage it. Whenever possible, take it into your hotel room overnight. That means a lot more work, but you’ll be sure nobody is taking your sweet new amp while you’re sleeping.
  4. If you record your shows, or you record at all while on the road, then check out my post about backing up your digital music files. After all, your files can’t be bought at Guitar Center if they are lost.

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Photo Credit: goatling Flickr cc via Compfight

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