Insuring your biggest asset – from one who’s been there.
I’m Rebecca Lodge and I’ve been a professional singer for more than 25 years. I’ve been lucky enough to work for many organisations over the years, both as a freelancer and in permanent jobs with the BBC Singers and now at the Royal Opera House. I was once asked what the difference was between being an ‘ad hoc’ member of the BBC Singers (a visiting freelancer) and a permanent member of staff, and my instant response was sick pay! As this was in a live interview on Radio 3 there were some startled faces around the table until I explained what I meant.
If you are under the weather vocally as a staff member of an organisation, you can afford to take the time to recover from your ailment and return ready for the fray, and this knowledge gives great comfort! However, as we all know, freelancers don’t have that luxury and there have been times as a freelancer when I’ve had to perform when I wasn’t entirely fit. This is a horrible feeling and not good for anyone – either you or the organisation that have booked you. As vocal performers, it’s bad enough having a cold/cough/sinus infection, but at least we know that this will pass. It’s a different matter though when something more serious happens and you face trying to find a diagnosis and finance treatment and possibly weeks of recovery time.
In 2012 I discovered that I had a polyp on my left vocal fold. This followed weeks of feeling below par and some days when speaking was a real effort, let alone singing. There was no consistency in my ability to phonate clearly and parts of my range were simply missing. It was a nightmare scenario as of course it happened at one of the busiest times of the year, just before Christmas. I had to find deps for as much of my work as I could, but as everyone else was equally busy, this wasn’t always possible. I spent quite a while telling myself I was tired, overworked, having reflux issues – anything to put off admitting that there might be a bigger problem and to try to avoid the expense of seeing an ENT specialist. When I finally did see one, it was actually a relief to know that something was really wrong as I was beginning to think it was all in my head! I was lucky enough with the help of my then employer, the BBC, to be able to see an ENT surgeon quickly who was experienced in treating singers, and who made the diagnosis and devised a treatment plan involving surgery and about 6 weeks of recovery and rehabilitation time. It was a very difficult period as I knew there was a risk that things might not go according to plan but, as I was barely able to speak, there was no option but to go ahead. All went well – surgery removed the polyp, and I was able to take the time I needed to fully recover. I haven’t looked back since and I’m now singing with one of the world’s leading opera companies.
It did make me think though about what might have happened had I been self-employed – in fact it gave me nightmares. I certainly didn’t have the savings or means of paying for my treatment or to replace my income during the weeks before I could work again. It would have meant the end of my career.
I decided to research vocal insurance products and was amazed to find that I couldn’t – they didn’t seem to exist. How was it possible that this need hadn’t been addressed? This was when I came up with the idea of a voice insurance product aimed at professional voice users. Something straightforward, with useful benefits that would help in this difficult situation and enable people to be seen promptly and get advice or treatment to fix the problem. It was important that you could see the specialist of your choice and that the product could cover both treatment costs and help towards income replacement. In conjunction with Pulse Insurance, a well established specialist insurer who create products for needs not covered in the general market, we came up with Segue Voice Insurance. You can find more details about this by following the link at the bottom of this post, but I truly hope that I and my insurance partners have come up with something that can give us all peace of mind so that, if we find ourselves in the awful position of needing expert help and/or intervention, we can gain some comfort from knowing that it’s just a phone call away. And, incidentally, available for less than a couple of posh coffees per week.
Wishing you all good vocal health!
Find out more about Segue Voice Insurance here.