A fire-eating broker builds her own program

Find out why--and how

Fire-eaters, stilt-walkers, aerial dancers and other less… conventional performers can have a hard time finding insurance. And even if they do, coverage will be expensive–up to $3,000.

So what’s a money-conscious fire-eater to do? Start her own program, of course.

Hala Zabaneh is a Toronto life insurance broker who has also performed as a fire-eater on stilts for 12 years. So when she needed performance coverage, she went out and got it.

Zabaneh started doing her homework, calling specialty underwriters, including some prominent ones. “They all said no, we don’t want to insure fire at all. Then finally when I called SUM [Strategic Underwriting Managers], one wonderful person, Mary Georgas [assistant vice-president], said, ‘Okay, we’ll consider it, please give us a risk analysis.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, risk analysis—okay.’ Since I’m life licensed, I’m not RIBO licensed, I didn’t know [about it]. So okay, if I try and do this they’re going to know I have no idea what I’m doing…”

Zabaneh, however, seemed to know very much what she was doing. She reached out to an insurance agency in Wisconsin that covers fire performers, clowns and aerialists. Canadians weren’t actually covered, though some had tried to finagle it through using U.S. addresses. Since she wasn’t in direct competition with them, the agency gave her a claims review going back five years.

Read more in our March 2016 issue.

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