The time of year has come around again when the liability insurance market receives a boost as Santa's all over the globe look to protect themselves against being sued for damages.
The season of big-bellied, white-bearded old men is upon us, and there seems to be more of them this Christmas than ever before.
Holly Valent, registrar for the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Michigan, said that some 113 St. Nick wannabes enrolled this year, with more than 40 students already registered for the 2013 classes.
Over the roughly 35-day season, mall-based Clauses can earn up to $15,000, while independent contractors performing home visits and special events can score between $7,000 and $20,000.
After enrolling in a course and training up to be an official Santa Claus it has now become essential for Santa to insure himself against any liability.
Forty years ago, the question, "Do you have insurance," would never have been asked when referring to a Santa Claus. Most often a Santa was hired as the employee of the department store or maybe the photo company. And any families, local businesses or even local community groups never asked for any proof of insurance.
How times have changed. Today's Santa and just about every contract entertainer and event contractor has to show some proof of liability insurance. For Santa's, this is usually in the form of entertainer's liability insurance.
Entertainer or Performer Liability Insurance is protection or coverage for the entertainer. It is to protect the entertainer, should there be any accident in a situation where one is working. If someone gets hurt, they may want compensation, or seek damages against the entertainer.
Entertainer or Performer Liability insurance is predominantly for protection. The general minimum is $1-million $2-million in liability insurance through most associations and clubs usually costs somewhere between $120.00 and $215.00.
There is a story of a case where a child, walking through the mall and holding his parent's hand, was staring over at Santa Claus and walked right into a piece of mall furniture, breaking a tooth and having to go to the emergency room.
One would think that someone would have told the child and even the parent to watch out where they were walking. But instead the parent sued the mall, Photo Company and Santa for being an "Attractive Nuisance."
Furthermore, the need for having Santa Claus insurance has been causing huge problems for the industry, especially when it comes to health and safety,
One prime example happened recently, in Sutton, South London, where Santa has been banned from sitting on his float, after a health and safety assessment found it to be too dangerous - so he will have to walk alongside instead. The ruling brings to an end a 46-year tradition in the town, and a plastic Santa will be placed on the float instead - while the human Santa walks alongside the float, collecting money from residents.
The same problem has recently occurred in a small town in New Hampshire, USA, where residents have been left outraged after Santa Claus was banned from riding on top of a fire engine over safety concerns. After days of discussion about the issue, it was decided it was too dangerous to continue having Santa and Mrs. Clause atop the truck. Santa's traditional ride through town violated National Fire Protection Agency Guideline 1500, and therefore the department's safety and liability regulations.
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