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Topic: Latest update on insurance for stage hypnosis
Message: Posted by: shrink (Sep 19, 2002 06:50AM)
After contacting equity today, there is "some" insurance available for stage hypnosis. But only insurance to cover any damage to venue or place of performance. I.e. someone falls into an expensive speaker. At this time it doesn't cover claims for phyisical or psychological damage. Aparrently one of the problems is that when they get a broker interested there is a rush demand for the policies and they get concerned and back off.

I know lots of hypnotists in the past who performed without any insurance at all.

I was wondering what the opinion was out there in the present climate about the possibiliy of doing shows with this minimum amount of protection?

It is an on-going thing and equity says they are still trying to get a better deal. Apparently employers and public liability is really difficult to set up at the moment across the board.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Dec 8, 2003 07:36PM)
Any old business professor would tell you that we earn for our judgment in dealing with uncertainty but we spread risk through contracts. Thus, the smart thing to do is take insurance when you can. Insurers depend on spreading risks over large populations. For stage hypnosis the numbers just aren't there. So would I perform without insurance? YES! But I am not here to tell you to do what I would do. I do not practice law.

Why would I perform without insurance? First I feel that the true odds of damaging someone in the act of entertaining are very remote. It would perhaps be just as easy to hurt another with poetry or writing. It challenges a thought or image over which the subject only suffers by his permission. Secondly, at law in much of the USA there is a legal protection already in place. That is the rule of contributory negligence. What this does is recognize that if a person willingly puts himself into a position to be harmed or contributed to making the harm possible he is also responsible for being harmed. His recovery from another for his own mistakes is barred. Another way to look at it is that he is a partner in crime and that partners in crime cannot sue each other for damages.

Another reason I see little likelihood of a suit is by avoiding audiences that profile as those who file frivolous lawsuits. These are usually nonpaying, unemployed or unemployable, low achievement audiences. They have no investment in such lawsuits and gain status among other underachievers or nonachievers for suing an achiever. Even when they lose, they win. More productive audiences have high opportunity costs associated with missing work, etc. and that creates investment and initially marks frivolous lawsuits as such. They are also much more likely to understand that this activity is entertainment they elected to join into. Even if offended, they tend to be secure in themselves and simply learn from the experience. They donít have the idle time to make a bad experience worse for anyone. I wonít work for just any audience. That decision has paid me well. Audiences should be worthy of the time too!

The fourth reason I would continue is because a wise attorney will sue the house rather than the act. The act leaves town and continues working while the case is pending. The house must continue at that location during the case. The house is also a deeper pocket to sue. The house will defend me to defend itself. Iím not alone in this defense. The house is willing to hire an act just like mine to replace me, if it was financially sound to hire me. They have local clout the entertainer may not have.

I agree lawsuits are indeed a real threat. There is a lot we can do to avoid them. One of the most basic as a group is to lobby for laws that protect our work from unreasonable jeopardy. Other professionals have had to do it. My wife is a practicing physician who owns her own business. That is getting to be rare in America. It is the consequence of professionals who did not know how to be in business and thought being a professional would protect them. It did not and will not. Running a business is a separate endeavor from being a professional. Learning to do both appears to be a disappearing art. Those who can do it deserve our admiration and support. Parasites typically seek out healthy animals to attack in nature and court. Pest control is in order. One of the strongest methods is choosing a worthy audience. Donít associate with those whose time is worthless. It tells something about the value of what you are offering.
Message: Posted by: MagicalPirate (Dec 9, 2003 02:29AM)
Hi Bob:

The issue for insurance in the UK isn't the same as we have it here in the States. In the UK they have actually had a law since 1952 about Stage Hypnosis and are required to obtain an entertainment license for each show they perform from the local authority. It is not an issue of perform with or without, they are required to have the insurance in order to obtain permission to put on their public show.
Message: Posted by: John LeBlanc (Dec 9, 2003 08:47AM)
On 2003-12-08 20:36, AmazedWiz wrote:So would I perform without insurance? YES! But I am not here to tell you to do what I would do. I do not practice law.[/quote]

While I won't argue your reasons for performing without insurance, I will join you in stating what I do: I would as soon perform in public without insurance as I would without clothes on (which is to say, not a chance.)

The very nature of insurance is to cover the risk of an event occuring which consequences are usually all out of proportion. Lightning very rarely kills a human being, but it does happen. There is even less likelihood of a person winning the lottery, but that happens also.

Performing in public these days is akin to holding a lightning rod in your hand. Getting sued happens rarely, but if it's your lucky day, having paid your $1,500 insurance policy premium will seem like having bought the winning lottery ticket.

Just another opinion.

John LeBlanc
Houston, TX
Message: Posted by: christopher carter (Dec 9, 2003 11:43AM)
On 2003-12-08 20:36, AmazedWiz wrote:
Why would I perform without insurance? First I feel that the true odds of damaging someone in the act of entertaining are very remote.

Just for kicks I called my insurance man to ask his opinion. What he gave me was a long, long, long list of physical injuries that have occured in his clients shows. Understandably he wouldn't tell me the names of the performers. Most of the injuries were broken bones. Ankles, wrists, and clavicles seem to be the highest numbers. I, myself, had a girl break her clavicle during a show once, so I was interested to see that I wasn't even close to being the only one.

Then I called my lawyer asking his opinion about liability. He explained that the people onstage will be presumed to be under the control of the hypnotist, so don't count on any court assigning contributory negligence to a participant. As for whether the injured party would sue the house or the performer, my lawyer said they would "probably sue the both of you, and even if they did sue the venue, the venue would turn around and sue you, so what does it matter!"

Since the chance of physical inury during a hypnosis show is in reality rather high, what might happen if you do cause an injury and get sued. The worst horror story I heard was of a high school senior who suffered a compound ankle fracture. As it happened, he was a baseball star on his way to a college scholarship. The ankle fracture was a carreer ender and he lost his scholarship. The hypnotist, or more correctly his insurance company, ended up paying for hospital bills, pain and suffering, a college education, and a percentage of lost wages for the young man's potential professional baseball carreer.

A simple question for anybody performing without insurance: How much do you like your house? If you cause the right (or wrong) kind of injury, there's a very good chance it won't be yours anymore. And if you're the sort of person who thinks that accidents only happen to other people, or that you have sufficient safety precautions, well that's what I used to think, too.

If you perform hypnosis shows without insurance, you are irresponsible, not just to yourself and your family, but also to the people on your stage.

Message: Posted by: jlibby (Dec 9, 2003 01:27PM)

Thanks for the enlightening (and somewhat unnerving) post. A thought occurred to me while reading it.

I have liability insurance through the IBM. That policy excludes coverage for hypnosis. As many of you know, I've developed quite an interest in "waking hypnosis" (although I'm not performing it yet). I wonder if the IBM liability insurance would include or exclude coverage for waking hypnosis.

I'll look into it and report back.

See ya!
Joe L.
Message: Posted by: MagicalPirate (Dec 9, 2003 02:40PM)
Let us know what you find out Joe. I would presume that any type or form of use of the word Hypnosis would automatically kick back to the hypnosis exclusion.

I would expect that the higher liability risk for Stage Hypnosis is due to the fact that we have the volunteers up on stage moving about. I would also expect to a lesser extent these risks exist anytime you perform a show using audience participation. Just getting them up and down the stairs on stage leaves your open to risk.

Hey Chris:

I may be off on my anatomy, but isn't the clavicle the bone ring around your neck. How did your volunteer manage to break that on stage during your show.
Message: Posted by: christopher carter (Dec 9, 2003 02:57PM)
On 2003-12-09 15:40, MagicalPirate wrote:
Hey Chris:

I may be off on my anatomy, but isn't the clavicle the bone ring around your neck. How did your volunteer manage to break that on stage during your show.

I call them rollers. You know, the types who get so loose they roll off their chairs and onto the floor. Well, she rolled off onto her shoulder, apparently hit it at just the right angle, and 'pop.' I would never have expected it, but apparenlty I'm not the only one it's happened to.

Now I make darn sure they stay in their chairs. If they start to roll, I go up to the first one and say, "From this moment further you will stay in your chair. If you fall off again, I'll have to excuse you and send you back into the audience." It does a great job of minimizing the rolling.

Message: Posted by: jlibby (Dec 9, 2003 03:13PM)
On 2003-12-09 15:40, MagicalPirate wrote:
Let us know what you find out Joe. I would presume that any type or form of use of the word Hypnosis would automatically kick back to the hypnosis exclusion.

I would expect that the higher liability risk for Stage Hypnosis is due to the fact that we have the volunteers up on stage moving about. I would also expect to a lesser extent these risks exist anytime you perform a show using audience participation. Just getting them up and down the stairs on stage leaves your open to risk.


Good point about having a bunch of people on stage with you. I've emailed the agent who administers the IBM policy. When I get his answer, I'll report it for one and all.

See ya!
Joe L.
Message: Posted by: MagicalPirate (Dec 9, 2003 03:28PM)
Blair Robertson covers himself during the induction with instructions that no one will fall out of their chair so that this doesn't happen. I'll have to look up the proper wording and I'll post it later.
Message: Posted by: shrink (Dec 10, 2003 07:03AM)
Any suggestion that suggests sticking or staying in the chair will work.

When I started out I used to suggest, "on the count of three the volunters will feel their bum is hot". I did this once and a volunteer got up and ran out of the venue at olympic speed. I had to carry on with the show while my friends went looking for him. To make matters worse it was a small village on the coast and fifteen feet in front of the hotel was a harbour a mile long! After getting the rest of the people under control I went out side and looked over the edge I was dreading seeing bubbles on the surface of the water!

However it turned out he was found further up the road a little disorientated. You need safety suggestions throughout your show. "No matter what happens you will not leave the stage".

This happened to me early on in my career with the proper training by an experienced hypnotist.

This is why I advise newbies to get training. Attempting this after just reading a book is crazy.
Message: Posted by: christopher carter (Dec 10, 2003 08:32AM)
Safety suggestions are sound policy. Unfortunately I had them in place long before ever having an accident, and people still rolled. I'd be willing to bet that most of those my insurance man told me of had the same safety policies as well. Do not be lulled into thinking "It can't happen to me."

People in hypnosis shows will act boisterously. They have come onstage for precisely that purpose. No matter how you phrase suggestions there will always be people who take the opportunity to go way over the top. Get insurance or don't perform. It's as simple as that.


PS: I'm sure you all know that an increasing number of venues are asking for proof of insurance these days, so being uninsured is less and less of an option.
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Dec 10, 2003 10:01AM)
While I certainly agree with the necessity of obtaining insurance, you can give yourself a substantial bit of extra protection by simply redefining what you do. An excellent example is a presentation built along the lines of Orville Meyer's "Telepathy in Action." In that approach it is clearly emphasized that the subjects will simply attempt to receive your thoughts, that they are not to do what you tell them to do, but what they feel you want them to do. They're to try to "catch" your thoughts.

Ten minutes into this type of presentation and you can do any of the standard hyp routines, you just never claim that it is hypnosis, but rather (an in Meyer's routine) an example of telepathy in action.

Kreskin, of course, has always claimed there's no such thing as hypnosis, and that what he does is merely suggestion. (!?)

(There are cynics who have claimed that the real reason Kreskin insists that hypnosis does not exist, and that what he does is simply a matter of suggestion -and not the domination or a persons will or mental control of their actions - is because his syndicated television program was based in Canada where presentations of stage hypnosis were prohibited by law.

So assume you take this route and someone falls down and breaks something. You get sued and are able to characterize the plaintiff's case as an allegation that he was injured by telepathy. You've just subtly
planted the words "frivolous lawsuit" in the judges mind.(An example of practical mentalism in the real world.)


Bob Cassidy
Message: Posted by: christopher carter (Dec 10, 2003 10:30AM)

You're a lawyer and I'm not, so I'll be glad to defer to your knowlege. But I would still rather defer to MY lawyer, since I pay him for his knowlege. I haven't spoken to him about presenting hypnosis shows in other guises, but I have spoken about relative liability of mentalism and hypnotism shows. His opinion is that it doesn't matter what you're presenting, mentalism or hypnotism, if a person is injured onstage during your show, You--not the venue--will be first in line for liability. I don't know the point of law, but the gist as I understand it is that the participant would not be onstage doing these things if not for you, and is presumed to be under your care.

I understand that my lawyer's job is to be risk averse, but in this case so am I. First, I'm not convinced that a suit regarding an injury during a show is necessarily frivolous. Second, it sure looks like plenty of frivolous lawsuits are being won these days. I don't think it's likely to make any substantive difference how you present things, the more important issue is the inherent riskiness of the endeavor.

Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Dec 10, 2003 11:30AM)

I don't disagree with you. Someone gets injured on stage and, yes, any halfway decent lawyer is going to sue anyone and everyone who could conceivably have and share liability.

I didn't mean to imply that insurance was a luxury rather than a necessity. My point was that by removing the word "hypnosis" you eliminate the word that in an earlier post was referred to as a block to contributory negligence - insofar as it would imply total control by the performer.

(Most jurisdictions, however, now use the standard of comparative, rather than contributory negligence - ie. a plaintiff recovers if it is shown that he was less than 50 percent responsible. In contributory negligence, any negligence at all on the part of the plaintiff would be a bar to recovery.)

But I wasn't trying to be entirely facetious when I referred to the possible defense strategy of characterizing the plaintiff's case as a claim that his injury was caused by "telepathy." That, of course, is patently ridiculous. But in the context of a trial - where, of course, you have an appropriate factual basis, it's the kind of ploy that often wins cases.

To far too many laypeople, including those who should know better, the word hypnosis still means a kind of mind control. It is certainly an approach a plaintiff's lawyer would use in pursuing a case in which his client was injured while allegedly under the Svengali-like control of the hypnotist.

Bottom line - get insured. Next to bottom line - keep your premiums down and don't ask for trouble when you don't have to.


Message: Posted by: shrink (Dec 10, 2003 11:46AM)
In the UK you wouldn't sell tickets if you didn't have Hypnosis in the publicity.
Message: Posted by: jlibby (Dec 10, 2003 12:39PM)
Howdy folks!

I heard back from the agent who handles the IBM's liability insurance. His response to my question about coverage for Waking Hypnosis was, and I quote:

"There is no coverage for mind control, mood control or any manipulation or affecting of the personality or psyche."

So as I understand it, the hypnosis exclusion in the IBM policy would also exclude coverage for waking hypnosis, "Telepathy In Action," The Doctor Q Act, or any other variant no matter how it's named or presented.

See ya!
Joe L.
Message: Posted by: shrink (Dec 10, 2003 03:37PM)
If that's the case then the insurance situation in the US is similar to the UK! We could defend against claims of psychological damage before the main insurance company went bust.

Perhaps if someone is sued in the States it could open a can of worms?
Message: Posted by: MagicalPirate (Dec 10, 2003 03:55PM)
Looks like the only choice I've been able to find is the ClownsoftheUS.com policy.

I would have to say that the only thing you would not be covered on in a Dr. Q style act is if it was presented as an act in say your Magic Show would be psychological claims against you. The policy would still have to cover physical injury as it would in any other audience participation segment.
Message: Posted by: Dr Omni (Dec 10, 2003 05:30PM)
Having discussed the insurance situation with several working American stage hypnotists, I've been told that there has never been a successful lawsuit in the USA against a stage hypnotist for "psychological damage" and that general insurance for stage hypnotists is available in that country. However, no US insurance firm will cover stage hypnotists who are resident and working outside North America.

In the UK, if a stage hypnotist is a member of Equity, he has public liability insurance up to the point where the subjects on stage go into trance. From that point on, the insurance cover ceases. If you take reasonable precautions - video every show and keep the tape, including your warning that people with a history of mental illness should not volunteer; avoid any age-regression effects; and get the volunteers to sign a release form; ensure your volunteers' physical safety on stage - then the odds are overwhelming that you will avoid a lawsuit for psychological damage. You probably have a lot more chance of being sued by a neighbour for something like water damage from a leaking pipe.

It's unfortunate that no UK insurance company will give us insurance once a person enters trance. But that won't stop me performing my act to people who want to see it, given the precautions mentioned above that I always take.
Message: Posted by: shrink (Dec 10, 2003 05:53PM)
Getting volunteers to sign release forms seems like a lot of hassle and would not be a great way of creating the right state for a good show?

And what would happen if some one breaks a leg?

I would also point out that there was no successful lawsuit in the UK until recently. With more and more websites and e-books springing up and rising popularity I wouldn't be suprised if that changes.

And really is the insurance provided by equity worth anything at all if it ends as trance begins? Apart from fooling a local council into giving you a license?
Message: Posted by: Dr Omni (Dec 10, 2003 06:17PM)
I agree that getting people to sign forms is a hassle and can interrupt the show. Also, it could potentially put an idea into a volunteer's head by the fact that it talks about legal liabilities. But I have found it useful in certain contexts.

If someone breaks a leg after being put into trance, presumably it would depend on whether the fracture was a presented in a lawsuit as being a result of the hypnosis or not. I must ask Equity for the answer to that. The thing to do is to ensure that the volunteers remain safe (this is one reason why I prefer not to do postural sway inductions, however dramatic they look to the audience, in case someone falls and hits their head).

Personally, I wouldn't recommend anyone to try and fool a local council into granting a licence for a public show by fraudulently misrepresenting the amount and nature of their insurance. The modest financial rewards aren't worth the risk of facing both criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits. (Quite apart from any ethical considerations.) The shows I've done over the past two years - few though they have been - have all been private events, so no licence was required.
Message: Posted by: MagicalPirate (Dec 10, 2003 09:02PM)
Offer a free hypnosis CD as a reward after the show. In order to get the CD they have to fill out a questionnaire that is written to include your release before they get the CD when they come for their free gift.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Dec 11, 2003 12:05AM)
To All of You,

Thanks for putting me onto the UK licensing and insurance requirement. Lucy and I donít plan to perform in Europe until 2005, but we needed to know how different it would be from the Western Hemisphere.

My bother-in-law is a British subject and a barrister. From what I am reading, we may be keeping him very busy just to make it by 2005.

Is this problem exclusive to UK? Will Europe and Scandinavia have similar problems? Is the problem limited to mentalism?

People would expect me to know these things but I donít. I was on the board of directors of a Norwegian corporation in the 80s. But we were into shipping, construction, building materials, medicine and entertainment in the USA. Entertainment law there never touched us. We made movies in the USA and Central America.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Dr Omni (Dec 11, 2003 07:04AM)
Bob - Having a UK-based barrister for a brother-in-law will probably save you a lot of money and enable you to get accurate information and informed advice.

With regard to European countries other than the UK, stage hypnosis shows are legal in Spain and can be performed without a licence. However, in most western European countries, public stage hypnosis shows are prohibited by law.

(I assume you mean "hypnosis" instead of "mentalism", and the latter word was used in error. I've never heard of any restrictions on the public or private display of what appears to be "mind-reading" in any country.)
Message: Posted by: Stuart Cumberland (Dec 11, 2003 08:49AM)
It's hard to sue someone who doesn't own anything.


Stage Hypnosis Secrets Revealed:[url=http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/adtrack.asp?AdID=37295]www.Mental-List.com/masterhypnosis.htm[/url]
Message: Posted by: jlibby (Dec 11, 2003 09:32AM)
Actually, it's easy to sue someone who doesn't own anything. Collecting is another matter. ;)

See ya!
Joe L.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Dec 11, 2003 10:19AM)
Dr. Omni,

Thank you very much for the help. A mind is a terrible thing to lose. It looks as if ďmind-readingĒ may get more attention.

I am having some problem watching the change in nations that ran on stable common law switch to the erratic randomness of statutory law. It kills the benefits of aged learning.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: shrink (Dec 11, 2003 02:34PM)
Signing release forms after a hypnotic show wouldn't be worth the paper they are wriiten on if someone really wanted to sue you. If you can be manipulated to do really stupid stunts then I'm sure they could claim they were dis-orientated when they signed them!

Also signing such a form would also carry a presupposition that hypnosis may be harmful. In other words "if something goes wrong and you are harmed you release me from any responsibility".
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Dec 12, 2003 09:48AM)

I agree with you. The requirement to sign forms to be a volunteer does two things detrimental to the whole process. It taints the concept of volunteer. Even worse, it plants the question about what could reasonably be expected to happen. In a fertile mind with a financial or publicity need, that spells trouble.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Dec 12, 2003 02:37PM)

Good idea on the CD/fill out the forms idea, but it's sort of closing the barn door after the horse ran off.

After a show where an injury occurred is not the time to have someone sign a waiver.

A waiver, as I understand them, is a statement of foreknowledge and intent not to sue should an injury occur during the performance of something potentially dangerous.

Back in my days in the Society for Creative Anachronism, we were required to sign an injury waiver prior to entering the combat lists and fighting. The same held true for any karate or judo tournament I have ever been in, as well as a couple of fencing tourneys.

A waiver is viable as prior consent to participate, with full knowledge of dangers and a statement of intent to hold harmless the person running the show.

And a statement of intent is NOT a denial of one's right to sue as I have been repeatedly told by various attorneys...

So, while your idea is a really good one - and will boost back of the room sales, it's probably of little value in lowering liability, from what little knowledge of the law I have.

But I AM going to use the CD idea for rewarding my volunteers! That's positively genius! Thanks!


Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
Message: Posted by: MagicalPirate (Dec 12, 2003 03:16PM)
Actually I can't take credit for it. It was an idea I got from Jonathan Royle's material and it would have to be taken into context. He used wording in his advertising and during his shows that tied into the release that made signing it just a formality. He used the CD to get the questionnaire that was worded such that they had agreed to all these conditions by coming up and volunteering. I believe the negligence laws in the UK are different than here in the US. The CD does make a good inducement. It is better than having to give each participant their own mini therapy session.