Best Liability Insurance for Authors & Artists (ACT vs. Next)

Author and artist Sara A. Noe standing in front of her booth at the Chesterton European Market


I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like paying for insurance. It sure feels like a scam, doesn’t it? Nonstop regular payments that add up to a LOT of money over time, just on the off chance that something bad MIGHT happen… and even then, it often feels like a battle to get reimbursed while you pray that your accident doesn’t fall into an obscure loophole that means you’re out of luck and insurance won’t pay.

Unfortunately, insurance is a necessary evil of today’s society.

I published my first novel in 2018. Early in my career when I was setting up a table for book signings at local shops, sidewalk sales, libraries, and bookstores, having general liability insurance wasn’t even on my radar.

But as my business grew when I added my artwork into my event inventory and continued to publish books in my sci-fi / fantasy series, I found myself running into a consistent roadblock when I started targeting bigger and higher-quality events such as festivals, markets, and conventions — many of those venues required vendors to have business insurance if they wanted to apply.

Introduction: Why Do Authors Need Business Liability Insurance?

I was exasperated about my dilemma at first due to the nature of my products. Was someone going to sue me for getting a papercut or dropping a book on their foot? Why did I need to tack on yet another business cost? I couldn’t afford to pay for business insurance, but that hurdle was preventing me from scaling up and reaching a lot of new customers.

Another vendor finally explained to me that setting up anywhere at anytime without insurance meant I was taking a gamble. The example they provided: If I had done everything right and secured my tent with weights, but another vendor nearby did not, and if the wind blew their tent into mine and people got hurt, I would be liable for those injuries because those people were inside my tent when it happened even though I wasn’t responsible for the negligence.

General liability insurance covers most accidents that can lead to lawsuits, including:

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Court and legal fees
  • Medical payments
  • Accusations of libel or slander
  • Advertising harm

Finally, I reached a point where I knew I couldn’t put this task off any longer. My business had grown, but I was restricted to doing small events because the lack of insurance prevented me from applying to the bigger ones I wanted to do. I didn’t need extensive coverage; I just needed the bare minimum at a low cost to satisfy the application requirements.

Thus, my search for the best business insurance to cover an artist/author began. I contacted local agents and was frustrated to receive quotes ranging from $500 to $2,000 annual rates that didn’t have monthly payment options (and therefore were out of my budget).

My search shifted online, where I found ACT Insurance and signed on for their 90-day show policy. When that expired, I switched over to Next Insurance, which had been recommended to me by a different vendor.

In this article, I’ll explain why I made the change. I’ll also review the pros and cons of both ACT Insurance and Next Insurance from the perspective of an author, artist, solopreneur, and small business owner (who does not own a brick-and-mortar location).

Note: this is not a paid article. Neither of these companies commissioned this post to be written, and my opinions are my own. I’m simply sharing my experiences with the goal of helping other authors and artists who find themselves in a similar situation.

Author and artist Sara A. Noe holding her book A Fallen Hero in front of her booth at the Chesterton European Market

Pros & Cons of ACT Insurance for Authors & Artists

ACT is an acronym for Artists, Crafters, & Tradesmen. The insurance agency markets itself with the tagline: Customizable coverage for creators: artist insurance for one day, one month, or one year (and everything in between).

ACT was recommended to me by a local artist who also owns a gallery, so he was using the business insurance in a different capacity than what I needed since he had a brick-and-mortar location in addition to setting up a booth at various venues. He highly recommended ACT and said that he’d never had a bad experience with them. After getting such high quotes from my local insurance agents who couldn’t offer me a monthly option, ACT seemed like the best choice for me in a pinch so I could apply for events that required general liability insurance.

Since I had my policy with ACT in April 2023, the website has gotten a refresh and their policies have been renamed, but the pricing tiers for art shows and festivals are still the same. As of May 2024, ACT’s prices range from short-term show policies at $49, $99, or $149 to annual policies at $24.25 or $33.42 per month with optional add-ons.

ACT Insurance met all of the requirements I needed to get into the markets and festivals that required proof of general liability insurance. I could download a certificate of insurance and, if needed, add an unlimited number of additional insureds for free.

All in all, ACT Insurance is not a bad option if you’re an artist, crafter, jeweler, potter, sculptor, woodcrafter, metal crafter, glassblower, candlemaker, or general artisan vendor.

However, if you’re an author, there’s a hidden caveat that isn’t clear at first glance.

I signed up for ACT’s 90-day show policy to start my event season. But ideally, I wanted a more affordable plan since paying for four 90-day policies to cover the whole year would add to up almost $600, whereas their annual policy at $24.25 per month would cost less than $300 annually.

Here’s the catch: to qualify for ACT Pro, you must hand-make at least 80% of your products. I hesitated when I reached that checkbox on the application, as it hadn’t been a condition I’d encountered when applying for the show policy.

I contacted ACT’s customer service team for clarification and explained that I’m a full-time author and part-time artist. I wrote and published the books, but I obviously didn’t make them by hand since they were manufactured in a factory and shipped to me.

Their team replied back and said that the annual policy wasn’t designed for authors, but their show policy did cover me. Essentially, they told me that I could apply for the annual policy just for the sake of getting into events, but if anything were to happen, I wouldn’t actually be covered.

I don’t know why ACT enforces the 80% handmade rule for their annual plan but not their show plan… but it meant that I needed to keep hunting for an alternative general liability insurance that would cover me as an author.

Pros & Cons of Next Insurance for Authors & Artists

As my ACT show policy neared its end and my search for affordable liability insurance resumed, a local candlemaker recommended Next Insurance for small businesses. This agency offers a much broader range of insurance options, including:

  • Business insurance
  • General liability insurance
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance
  • Commercial auto insurance
  • Commercial property insurance
  • Business owner’s polity (BOP)
  • Commercial umbrella insurance
  • Cyber insurance
  • Tools and equipment insurance
  • Liquor liability insurance
  • Product liability insurance
  • Contractor license bonds

Unlike ACT, which caters specifically to artists (but not authors), Next insures just about any small business… including artists. Their monthly rate for general liability insurance was comparable to ACT at only $26.99 per month (as of May 2024).

As a whole, I found Next’s website and app to be much user-friendly than ACT. Some events require vendors to not only have general liability insurance, but also to add the event host, city, and/or venue onto the certificate holder as an additional insured. Next makes that process SO EASY. In less than a minute, you can plug in the information, generate a new certificate of insurance, and download it. All you need is the requester’s name and address (screenshot below so you can see how simple the form is). All of your custom certificates are then saved in your dashboard.

As for the downside of Next Insurance… I honestly don’t have any negatives to list. Next Insurance is convenient, covers everything needed to meet event qualifications, user-friendly, and affordable. And they don’t care whether my products are handmade or not.

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My Recommendation: Best General Liability Insurance for Authors & Artists

Paying for business insurance probably wasn’t at the top of your to-do list early in your publishing career. (It certainly wasn’t on mine!) But if you’re serious about growing your personal brand into a business, and if that business is growing as you set your sights on bigger and better events, then you will eventually need insurance. Not just because you’re taking on more financial risks by setting up a booth at crowded venues, but also because many events won’t even let you apply if you don’t have general liability insurance.

I’ve used both ACT Insurance and Next Insurance, and for me, there was a VERY clear winner.

**It’s worthwhile to note that I have not (knock on wood) had to file any claims, so I can’t weigh in on that aspect in this head-to-head comparison.

If you’re an artist who primarily sells handmade products, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ACT. I like that they have different show policies (ACT Go) depending on whether you need to cover a single event, a few events, or several months. ACT’s annual policy (ACT Pro) is slightly cheaper than Next Insurance if you make less than $50k… but it’s a difference of less than $2.75 per month, so it’s a negligible amount.

Unfortunately, if you’re an author or an artist who outsources the production of your designs, art prints, and products, then ACT will most likely fall short of your needs unless you’re okay with paying a lot more to keep renewing their 90-day show policy instead of receiving annual coverage. Their business is designed to cater to certain types of artists, but unfortunately, that means they exclude other types that don’t fit into the handmade category.

Digital artists, for example, are completely hit or miss with ACT. If you’re a digital artist who has a high-end printer and produces your own prints at home, you qualify. If you’re a digital artist who does NOT have an expensive printer, so you outsource that production to ensure high-quality products, then you don’t. To me, that’s really splitting hairs.

Next Insurance picks up the slack and offers an affordable liability insurance plan for just about any small business owner regardless of your industry or products. Their app and website are so user-friendly that it’s incredibly easy to customize certificates on the fly and send them immediately.

There’s a reason I switched from ACT to Next and haven’t looked back. Next Insurance for small businesses is my recommendation for authors, hands down. And it also works just as well for artists since it’s designed for any kind of entrepreneur, including artists.

NEW! I’m excited to announce that I’ve recently created a new Substack subscription for authors, artists, and other creative entrepreneurs. If this article was valuable to you, then I encourage you to check out Substack where I share even more in-depth posts on business topics related to publishing, marketing, and selling. Join my network for only $5 a month!

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I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first three novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series have received awards from Literary Titan.

After some time working as a freelance writer, I was shocked by how many website articles are actually written by paid "ghost writers" but published under the byline of a different author. It was a jolt seeing my articles presented as if they were written by a high-profile CEO or an industry expert with decades of experience. I'll be honest; it felt slimy and dishonest. I had none of the credentials readers assumed the author of the article actually had. Ghost writing is a perfectly legal, astonishingly common practice, and now, AI has entered the playing field to further muddy the waters. It's hard to trust who (or what) actually wrote the content you'll read online these days.

That's not the case here at On The Cobblestone Road. I do not and never will pay a ghost writer, then slap my name on their work as if I'd written it. This website is 100% authentic. No outsourcing. No ghost writing. No AI-generated content. It's just me... as it should be.

If you would like to support my work, check out the Support The Creator page for more information. Thank you for finding my website! 🖤

2 thoughts on “Best Liability Insurance for Authors & Artists (ACT vs. Next)

  1. Thanks for the recommendation, Sara! I went with Next and it’ll save me more than 50% compared to buying individual policies for each event. Much appreciated.

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