By Jim Lawson
There’s not a lot of fun to be had from paying the annual event insurance premium. Agreed? Handing over hundreds of dollars (and the rest) hits where it hurts, and not seeing or receiving anything tangible just goes against the grain. There is however an inevitability about insurance. In the end, we always pay up! Why? Because the consequences of not being insured and getting caught up in a claim are downright scary. So, if we always pay, doesn’t it make sense to get the very best value we can from the transaction?
I recently had an off-the-record chat with an insurance underwriter and took away 5 top tips for event organisers.
Right now, the insurance market is ‘hardening’. Premiums for events are on the rise and insurers are more selective when it comes to the events they will do business with. Some insurers may even want to ignore your previous years’ policy and take a fresh look at your event. This means that the renewal process can take longer. Contacting a broker a couple of days before your event (apparently very common) will definitely work against you. Taking a line from my insurance insider: “Underwriters are completely overwhelmed at the moment – so don’t poke the bear! Be organised and leave plenty of lead time”.
In other words, tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Too many event organisers supply very generalised information, skimp on detail and in some cases just don’t provide an honest assessment of expected numbers and audience demographics. Brokers and underwriters that are interested in events actually have great knowledge about the event industry, so trying to secure a cheaper deal by not giving the complete picture won’t fool anyone. In the end, a lack of detail will likely be counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve, which should be peace of mind and robust coverage if something goes wrong.
Allow the receipt of your insurance premium invoice to be the trigger for your annual risk audit. Do some soul searching. Are there any emerging risks that you need to add to your risk register? Ask your staff, your volunteers and your suppliers what they see as current or emerging risks to your event. Are some risks being managed so well now that they lack the significance that they once did? An up to date event risk profile can be a “win win” for you and your insurer. The more you can minimise your exposure to risk through rigorous processes and procedures, the better off everyone will be.
For example, if you are part of the parents and friends committee for your local kindergarten and organising a Fun Run as your annual fundraiser, make sure the kindergarten’s insurance policy provides coverage for public events of this style. The existing policy may well provide very adequate cover against injury to a child or parent that accesses the facility, however, the policy may not cover an event so removed from core business and conducted outside the grounds of the kindergarten. Fundraisers also usually rely on the services of volunteers. Do you have separate insurance for your volunteer workforce? It is unlikely that the Kindergarten’s Public Liability Insurance covers event volunteers.
It is really important to understand what is covered by your selected insurance policy and what is not covered, before you sign the contract. Carefully read the whole policy provided, including the fine print. Is your event bump in and bump out included or is it just event day that is covered? Do you store equipment at the venue you use, and if so is theft to that equipment covered in your policy? Are there any geographical exclusions? Exclusions are typically listed after the coverage section of your policy, but sometimes they are a part of each coverage description, so look closely at this. If you are big enough to invest in cancellation insurance, does you policy cover epidemics and floods – very possibly not anymore!
In conclusion, the insurance market is cyclical. It moves through both hard and soft markets. Right now because of a combination of factors, like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, insurance globally is in a hard market. Insurers don’t have lot of capacity or the appetite to provide cover for events. Right now there is also very little choice for event organisers, so there is no competition. It is more important than ever to get on the front foot and ensure your event competes well in this tight market. Doing the risk ground work not only means you will run a better event, it also means that the coverage you are paying for matches the reality of the event. Win win!