Analysis: Jackson case will change the tune for concert, artist insurance

Thu Oct 3, 2013 7:34pm EDT
 
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When Britney Spears takes the stage this December for the first of a heavily hyped 100-show two-year residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, the loudest cheers may come from her insurance underwriters.

Along with the sound engineers and roadies who help stage a concert, insurance underwriters play a large role in making sure a star can get onstage and grab the microphone. Insurers are also key during those times when stars do not show and concerts get canceled.

On Wednesday afternoon, a Los Angeles jury found AEG Live was not liable in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of late pop singer Michael Jackson, in a case where lawyers in court papers had suggested the damages could exceed $1 billion.

The fact that AEG Live found itself at the center of the wrongful death suit had sent shockwaves through the music world in past months, with concert promoters as well as well-known entertainment insurers like AON/Albert G Ruben and Lloyds of Londonexpected to beef up policies for acts they insure and potentially raise some prices.

Even though AEG was not held responsible, insurance experts believe the case has spurred the industry to re-think policies and find ways to prevent similar situations down the road.

The role of Dr. Conrad Murray, convicted for manslaughter for his role in administering a fatal dose of the surgical anesthetic propofol to Jackson, is already prompting changes, say underwriters. In the future, the star or his promoter may be required to carry separate insurance on his entourage.

"The biggest stars all have doctors and their own staff," said Lorrie McNaught, senior vice president at Aon/Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services Inc, a large entertainment insurance firm, which has handled many of the world's biggest tours over the last 12 months.

"If you have a security guard who winds up punching someone in the face or kills someone, who is responsible?   Continued...

 
A portrait of the late pop star Michael Jackson is displayed on a slot machine at Gaming Expo Asia in Macau May 22, 2012. REUTERS/Bobby Yip