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Protecting Santa Claus – Reducing your Liability

posted by SantaTim On October - 5 - 2012 Comments Off on Protecting Santa Claus – Reducing your Liability

Protecting Santa Clause – Reducing your Liability

(This is the third in a three part series on Protecting Santa Claus)

Yesterday I reviewed the need for insurance.   There are some Santas and Party Entertainers, who question the idea of having liability insurance.  Many of these performers have been doing this for years and don’t see any need to have to pay for insurance.

But, if you have one accident, someone could sue you and you could lose everything, your home, your savings, everything?

Yes it is difficult to understand the reasoning for having insurance.  But in today’s Society, it has become more apparent that should an accident occur, someone is going to want compensation, or to at least have the damages paid for.

The Malls and Photo companies have had business liability insurance for years.  It is standard business practice.   And some are now also requiring Workman’s Comp Insurance.

But years ago, Santas, Clowns, Magicians and other entertainers often did not have any type of coverage. One Group, the Shriners, did extend their insurance coverage to their members when they were performing.  This was to protect the members when they volunteered and performed at hostpitals and in local parades.

In the late 1980’s the Shrine organization decided that each individual Shrine Clown or entertainer needed to have his own policy.   All Fellerman, a fellow shriner and an insurance broker, started a special insurance program.  Eventually that insurance company – Speciality Insurance Agency, provides coverage to Clowns, magicians, face painters, jugglers and even Santa Claus.

And today,  there are a variety of companies that insure not only small entertainers, like clowns, magicians and Santas, but also concerts, festivals and larger events.

You are always open to being sued by someone should anything happen.  A child slips off you knee, or trips over your boots.  If there is an injury, the parent or parents, may want to have you pay for damages, duress, etc.

Here are some true scenarios:

A young child received a candy cane from Santa.  He loves the candy and licks the candy cane into a sharp point.  Then while continuing to suck on the candy, is bumped by someone, cuts his tongue and punctures the roof of his mouth.  The damages were not serious, but the Santa was held liable because he purchased the candy and gave it to the child.  The parent sued for emergency room fees, shock and duress and won.

And would you believe that one child while walking past a photo set tripped over another child and Santa was sued for being an “Attractive Nuisance.”  Fortunately this lawsuit was considered frivolous, but it still cost Santa hundreds if not thousands in legal fees to have the case dismissed.

So, general liability insurance has become a standard for all party and event entertainers.  It is there to protect you, should something happen and someone decide to seek damages or even sue you.

To go further, here are some suggestions on how to limit your liability and protect yourself:

Do not hand out or give anything away that could harm a child.   Candy Canes and other types of Candy are a tradition with the holidays.  However, as mentioned above you could have an accident should a child poke himself, or even choke on a small piece of candy.

Pencils with points or candy canes that can be sucked into a point are also not advisable as they can create puncture wounds.

Child care professionals suggest that you should never give away small items.  Especially to children three and under.  This includes, bells, erasers, etc. These items seem to quickly find their way into a child’s mouth.  An easy way to know if an item is too small is to use the “paper tube” test.  It an item will fit down inside a paper towel tube, it could also easily be swallowed by a child.  So small items are out!

If your client buys or supplies you with items to give out, remember the above and be careful with small children.

As an alternative, give away stickers, tattoos(water based), wrist bands, or trading cards.  And because children are always being told not to accept anything from a stranger, the proper etiquette for giving something to a child is to hand it to the parent first for approval

I learned this a few years ago and switched to giving out trading cards.   Since then many Santas have done the same, giving out trading cards, stickers, or special business cards.

Any toys, crayons or items that are not rated non-toxic, should not be handed out.

Face painting and using the same brushes on different children is not healthy.

Finally, unless you as sitting in the Santa Chair and giving each child a coloring book or toy, never surprise a parent or catch them off guard and hand something directly to a child.  This is especially true in the off season or when you are not performing or appearing as Santa.

It is wise, and also very polite and courteous,  to always ask the parent before giving a child something.  I suggest that you give the items to the parent and let the parent decide.   I even do this with my trading cards.

And besides, the children are always told not to accept anything from a stranger, and until the parent accepts you, Santa is still a stranger in some ways.  Think about it.

Should you have any question on the above advice, feel free to contact me: Santa@RealSantas.com .

 

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