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Do circus performers have special insurance?

Circus performers, like this Cirque du Soleil acrobat, can find insurance companies specializing in performances.
Circus performers, like this Cirque du Soleil acrobat, can find insurance companies specializing in performances.
Greetsia Tent/WireImage/Getty Images

It's just another day at the office for Amy. She arrives on time, takes the stairs and spends a few moments settling in. Confident about the tasks that lie ahead, Amy takes a deep breath and leaps in.

Into thin air, that is.

Amy, a trapeze artist, will spend the next several minutes hurtling from swinging bars as she's suspended over a net. She'll rely on centrifugal and gravitational forces, along with years of practiced moves, to dazzle the audience below. And, although onlookers can't see it, Amy is also relying on special insurance policies. The same is true of other performers, ranging from balloon artists and belly dancers to clowns and contortionists.

Insurance is an integral part of most circus performances, and there are a handful of specialized agencies in the U.S. that offer circus-centric coverage. Organizations such as the Specialty Insurance Agency or the World Clown Agency e are a good place to start, as opposed to more generalized agencies whose employees may be shocked into awkward silence by a query from a tightrope walker [Source: Specialty Insurance Agency].

Aside from knowledge of -- and a willingness to cover -- the particular risks that come with circus performances, the insurance these agencies offer is similar to that offered to people of other professions. Take liability insurance, for example. General liability insurance is an important consideration for circuses and circus performers. It protects the insured against monetary claims made against them, as in the case of a lawsuit. It also protects against claims triggered by physical injuries to others or property damage to performance venues.

Many circuses may hire performers as employees and then cover those employees under their company insurance policies. However, many circus troupes require performers to have performers' insurance coverage, particularly if they are hired as independent contractors.

Although the annual cost of performers' insurance can vary from several hundred to several thousand dollars, performers' insurance policies typically cover bodily injury and property damage specific to the performer. This typically includes medical bills arising out of accidental physical or dental injuries. Often, this specially tailored coverage also will include protections against bodily injury to a spectator or any property damage that may occur in the performance venue [source: Cannon].

For some circus performers, it can be difficult to obtain insurance coverage, particularly if they work with exotic animals or specialize in fire eating. However, most should be able to secure some manner of coverage, such as an accidental death policy, and may be able to find additional coverage through an insurance provider willing to cover rare and unusual risks [source: Simply Circus].