6 Risk Management Tips to Help Your Next Event Run Smoothly

Marketing Conference

Conferences, roadshows, field events. Event marketing activities can be an important part of a successful marketing program. They are important, in that they create a lot of attention and excitement for a brand. And the face-to-face interactions are high-value, high-impact impressions. Certainly, you are going to work hard to make your event marketing activities exciting and noteworthy. But risk management and insurance matters are often overlooked or are just an afterthought, potentially with damaging and expensive consequences. Here are some things you can do to protect your company and reduce your insurance expenditures.

Get An Early Start

Getting an early start in arranging the insurance for an event is hugely important. Your insurance agent’s primary responsibility is to make sure that the proper coverage is in place for you at the lowest cost possible. If you call your agent on a Thursday or Friday for an event that weekend, he/she most likely will be able to make arrangements for the proper coverage (for most events), but the pricing will not be optimal. Check in with your insurance agent early on and advise him/her as to what you are looking to do. Your agent will then be able to advise you as to whether any special insurance arrangements will be needed.

Keep in mind that insurance does not cover everything – there are exclusions. For example, under a general liability policy, there are standard embedded exclusions that restrict or eliminate coverage for watercraft and aircraft. So, if your conference, as a highlight, includes a social/meet-and-greet on a large watercraft, you will need to make special insurance arrangements.

Be Careful With Contractual Agreements

Buried within a venue/facilities lease agreement are the “indemnification” provisions. The indemnification provisions are often very detrimental to you, the Lessee of the venue/facility. A typical indemnification provision requires that the Lessee “… defend, indemnify and hold harmless the Lessor from any and all liability however associated with or however arising out of Lessee’s event at the facility/venue.” So, if the Lessor is providing security, and security happens to get too aggressive in controlling disorderly patrons thereby causing those patrons to sustain “serious and permanent injury,” you are contractually responsible for those claims. Review the indemnification provisions of a venue/facility lease agreement very closely BEFORE signing the agreement. A quick and easy cure to being held responsible for everything is to insert wording (and have the Lessor initial), such as “except for claims or injury arising out of the negligence or actions of the Lessor or Lessor’s agents.”

Also, if you’re hiring live entertainment for your event, review the talent contract very closely. It’s not unusual for talent to seek that you provide their insurance inclusive of insuring their musical instruments – you want to strike such provisions from the talent contract.

Certificates of Insurance

Depending on the scope of activities at your event, you may have to engage concessionaires, security, sound/light stage and other contractors. Require of your contractors that in advance of the event, they provide you with a certificate of insurance that displays information as to their general liability, liquor liability (if applicable), and workers’ compensation insurance coverages. Send all COIs to your agent for review. And if your event has exhibitors and vendors, they as well should provide you with COIs.

Requesting COIs is a routine, commonplace practice. For example, the venue/facility is going to require that you provide a COI as proof of your insurance coverages. A satisfactory COI from a contractor is your assurance that the contractor will be able to address complaints arising out of its services. If you get pushback in requesting a COI, it could mean that there is a problem, such as the contractor not having insurance. And if the contractor does not have insurance and something bad happens, guess who gets stuck with the claim? Probably you, the party that hired the contractor.

Event Cancellation and Non-Appearance Insurance

Organizing and conducting events can be expensive with a lot of up-front fixed/sunk costs. If the event is canceled or impaired due to weather, talent non-appearance, or other cause, your objectives will not be achieved, and you could also sustain significant financial loss.

Event cancellation and non-appearance insurance is available, but the underwriting process is extremely time-sensitive, and full payment must be received by the underwriter in advance of the event. Do not procrastinate if the size and cost of your event warrants event cancellation and/or non-appearance insurance, or you could be stuck without.

Waivers Have Limited Strength

Waivers are helpful, but they have their limitations. The more unique or unusual an event, the less effective a waiver will be. A ticket to a baseball game typically contains a waiver, as does a ski lift ticket, and these will generally be effective, as the hazards of attending a baseball game or going skiing are well-known to the public, at large. However, if your event involves very unique activities, the waiver will have limited strength, because one could say, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my seriously injured client had no idea whatsoever as to the extraordinarily dangerous and truly outrageous hazards that awaited her when she signed this waiver, which was forced upon her as a condition of her participation.” You should use waivers where possible, but just keep in mind that, although they may deter small complaints, they may not hold up in situations of serious injury.

Make It Formal

The insurance for your events will be handled more efficiently and at lower cost if you establish and implement a set of formal guidelines that incorporate procedures like those discussed herein. Formal guidelines can easily, and repeatedly if necessary, be shared among your team members and communicated to others involved in your events.

Further, by establishing formal guidelines, the various risk management tools are strengthened. For example, in requesting a COI from a security company, your event coordinator can just state, “Sorry to press you on this, but Corporate requires that we get COIs from security and all event contractors”

Coverage availability and pricing are subject to underwriting. Preston-Patterson is licensed in all states and Washington, D.C.

Contact: Stephen W. Patterson, MBA, CPCU, steve@preston-patterson.com, 800-516-5199 ext. 111