product liability


Feb. 13, 2008
Hello all,
Although I have been welding and making "Metal Art" for over 25 years I have come into a venture where a question has risen about product liability insurance?
Is it necessary for a metal artist to carry product liability?
I could understand it for public installation etc.
But most of my work is decorative and abstract.
Does anyone have any insight they would like to share?
Thanks for any and all responses!

visitor's picture

From the way it sounds, I

From the way it sounds, I doubt you would need the insurance as long as you don't build anything that people actually use or that can fall down and hurt someone. I'd ask your insurance agent though. If you do decide to get the liability insurance, be very specific with what you actually do. My first quote for product liability was over $13,000 a year! I told them I was a small fab shop and they lumped me in with all welding including that on nuclear power stations and gas lines. Once I explained that just made railings and furniture and such it came down to about $1200 a year. A lot more than I'd like to pay, but a whole lot less then $13,000.

Please post what you find out, I'm curious what your insurance agent would say about art and liabilities.


J.R. Tamayo's picture

A lady in a McDonald's

A lady in a McDonald's restaurant spills coffee on herself, sues, and wins a settlement. Personally, I like my coffee hot. In California, a burglar breaks into a home, slips on the wet kitchen floor and gets hurt; he sues the home owner and wins. If he had entered my house, he would have been too dead to sue me. A lady rents an RV, then while driving it down the freeway, decides to put it on "cruise control," (easy how one can confuse that with "auto pilot"), so she could leave the wheel and make herself a sandwich. Well you can guess the outcome.

We need real tort reform from frivolous law suits. The word "Justice System" is an oxymoron. I don't speak from ignorance, but from tragic first hand experience. I hope that some greedy plaintiff, and his ruthless, unscrupulous, ravenous (these adjectives are really euphemisms because I know I'm speaking in mixed company) attorney doesn't get their claws into you.

It's a shame that as artists, we have to temper our creativity because of liability. We need less lawyers, and more artists in this world. If you don't believe me, open your local yellow pages...


PS: Frank, I hope you dulled the knives on your eagle; Eligius, I noticed your Amigo grillwork had some pointed ends; Warren, shave the point off your dragon's teeth and horns (I'll be sure to do the same to mine).

SteelyJan's picture

Great Comment JR

I like your way of thinking ....if I'm klutzy enough( and sometimes I am) to hit my head on a table or cabinet,is the company to blame for my lack of coordination or focus. The best is the childs head stuck in the railing!!!!Who in the world leaves a small child unattended on a stairway. I never baby proofed my house and my son managed to survive.
Of course I was on his case 24-7!!! He did whack himself a few times on some tables....his head is really hard now.
None of us would ever want anyone to be hurt by our work. And I'm sure we all put alot of love and good energy into it. It's a tough one. Janet R.

Frank Castiglione's picture

Right on Bro.....

A lot of us grew up in the era of steel roller skates, no bicycle helmets, street football,BB-guns, back flip contests off someones garage into a hay pile etc.Most of us survived.
We had slip and fall artists, but now its epidemic.
I made a skull with cones coming out of his head like a punk. The cones came to very sharp tips, so I beat them into a curl at the extreme ends. I'll be dipped in doo doo if there weren't a few people who looked at this piece,and didn't try those tips with their finger. I would simply show them other sharp areas to cut themselves if need be.
Hmmm, a razor blade sculpture? I was asked to make a sculpture for a skateboard park. I told them it would be a bumper like in a pin ball machine. Then I bowed out because the fear of a lawsuit haunted every creative notion.
Frank (over 100 stitches in the head alone by age ten)

B.J. Severtson's picture

safe and reasonable

The jeweler that I apprenticed to, told the story of the man that he apprenticed to. Seems that he had shot a rather large moose. Proud of it he was. He had moose mounted, Great huge thing. His wife would not let him hang his moose in her house, so he hung the moose over his jewelers bench. Seemed perfectly safe and even reasonable for forty years. Until it came loose from the wall, fell on the jeweler and killed him. There was no moose over my teachers bench, there will be no moose over my bench. Seems that the concepts of safe and reasonable are changeable things. Product liability insurance is a good idea if you have assets you'd like to protect, from those who have a slightly differing concept from yours concerning safe and reasonable. Of course you could self insure, which is what you will be doing if you opt out of purchasing a policy. Since the question has come up you can almost bet on "mother being the necessity of invention." 2cents worth Brad

Ries's picture

Insurance is only needed if

Insurance is only needed if you have something to lose.
The more money you make, the more your house and tools are worth, the more reason to buy insurance.

I have a million dollar liability policy, but the only reason I have it is to get public art jobs- every single one requires a copy of your insurance as soon as you sign a contract. Liability alone for this amount usually runs a grand or twelve hundred a year.

For 15 years or so, I made chairs, candlesticks, and knickknacks, and sold them to a hundred or so stores and galleries around the country- never once did I need, or was I asked for, product liability insurance, and yet I was making products. But my yearly gross was about what a decent insurance salesman makes. If I had been selling a million dollars a year, you can bet I would have had more insurance.

My compromise these days is I have a business insurance policy, which includes liability.
I have to, because of the public art jobs, but also, I have 5 or 6 buildings that are studios on my land, and my homeowners insurance specifically says it wont cover business use. So I have one policy that is fire and theft for my studios and shops, liability, and also covers tools on job sites, breakins to the biz truck, and so on.

I guess what I am trying to say is, for a small scale artist, dont worry about it. If you are making a hundred grand a year on your work, then I would start thinking about insurance. If you own a couple hundred grand in tools, or a few hundred grand in business buildings, then, maybe.
Or, if you have a high net worth- that is, if you have something to protect from lawsuits.

Rodeo's picture

insurance update

WOW! Thanks everyone for such rapid responses.
Seems like I might have found a website I'll like.
My agent seems to think the policy's unnecessary and as expensive as every one seems to know.
But it is being checked on. When they get back to me I'll post results.
Thanks again,

Sandra Moses's picture



Being from Canada, things are a bit different here, but the way the world is going, we thought it best to get insurance. Better to be on the safe side than to risk problems in the future. Our pieces are shipped all over the world and you just never know what could happen if you're not covered. I hate that we even have think about it, let alone pay for it, we feel insurance is a real racket. Maybe we should have gone into that business and really made some good money.  No, I really love what we do!

Sandra Moses Owner, Designer Ablaze MetalArt & Design 250-338-2339

warren's picture


Hey JR I like the fact of sharp items, it draws the hands to the piece to just see how sharp they are, makes people want to touch.
Always is a problem and sometimes you just say the heck with it and others you try to design not to inflict pain if person bumps in to it or handles to clean etc.
Never really looked at needing insurance, in my commission contracts I have some clauses that I am not liable. (hey if some kid climbs on your sculpture 10 years from now and it breaks and they get hurt not my fault).
Worse I hate is having to install. Went to put up a piece a while back and it mounted on the wall. Client said I had to install to make sure it hung correctly. So I drilled some 1/2 inch holes in the sheet rock (for the wing type hangers) and she had a fit. I told her you wanted me to install so I am using the largest hangers I can, just an oh from her.


J.R. Tamayo's picture

Hey Warren, I have my dragon

Hey Warren,

I have my dragon on a table between my kitchen and my dining room. I sometimes walk too close, brush up against it, and catch my sleeve on it's sharp teeth. It's way of saying "don't pass by without so much as a glance!" And I do take notice of my creation: menacing, dangerous, mystical, and somewhat beautiful. It would not have those attributes, if not for its saber-tooth-tiger-like teeth, or those spike-like spines on it's erector caudae. A dragon is what it is... and art is what it is.

You're right, I say "the heck with it." If you don't respect my dragon, for what it is, it can, and will inflict pain. I can, as well, sculpt a dragon's egg. Rounded spheres of smooth... egg. You choose your subject:

"I'd rather be a hammer than a nail,
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would.
I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail,
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would."

--- El Condor Pasa.

Warren, I'm glad people "want to touch" your art. That means that your art... touches people!

Your friend, J.R.