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October 14, 2020 Adrian Zee

How special event insurance can save your next function

Event liability insurance ultimately protects you or your business from lawsuits, providing you with peace of mind and making sure you don't end up in legal debt.

If you’re planning an event, your role involves mitigating risk. Pre-COVID, that might mean planning for an attendee slipping and falling or a vendor arriving late — or not at all. Post-COVID it means liability coverage for live streaming content, cancelation costs for special speakers and production crew, as well as all the pre-COVID risks for hybrid events.  Special event insurance can cushion the consequences of something going wrong. 

Angla Contardi is the Founder and CEO of UEventPRO.com, an online event marketplace that connects clients with the tools, resources, and vetted pros they need for engaging events — whether virtual, live or a hybrid of the two. She understands the risks involved in any function: “Events are risky by nature and risk management is a core element of event management,” said Contardi, “I’m often amazed by how many organizations are hosting events without any risk protection for themselves or their guests.” 

If you’re hosting an event, special event insurance is a necessary form of risk protection. This article explains what special event insurance is, particularly event liability insurance, and why it’s essential for your next virtual, live, or hybrid event. 

What is special event insurance? 

Special event insurance can mitigate financial risks related to weddings, exhibitions, festivals, fundraising dinners, conferences, and other functions. Event insurance can cover you in many situations, such as: 

  • A vendor doesn’t show up and you can’t get a refund
  • Someone falls and sues you for damages 
  • An unforeseen circumstance cancels your event 
  • Items at the event are stolen or lost
  • Someone is in an accident causing damage after consuming alcohol at your event
  • Live streaming accidentally captures non-permitted content
  • An attendee damages the event space 

Generally, you or your business, as the event host, is responsible for these situations. Even if it seems that the attendee tripped due to their own clumsiness or if the liability should be on the event centre or venue, there’s still a possibility of legal action against you. 

“A lot of event hosts assume they are covered in case anything happens . . . but very often that isn’t the case,” said Contardi, “Ensure your organization or business has the right coverage, so you can get to the business of connecting with your community with peace of mind.”

Although venues likely have insurance, their insurance protects the venue — not you. As an event host, you or your business must carry your own insurance. Many event venues may even require their tenants to have insurance, especially event liability insurance. 

What is event liability insurance? 

General liability insurance comes in all shapes and sizes. It prevents some or most out-of-pocket costs when third-parties claim damages for bodily injury or property damage due to an incident at your event. The amount that an event liability insurance policy covers ultimately depends on the amount of risk you want to mitigate. Consider how many people are attending your event. The more people you have, the greater chance of something going wrong. So, it may be prudent to purchase more coverage when there are more attendees. 

Other factors to consider are: 

  • Will this be a private or public event? Public events generally carry more risk because it’s uncertain who will attend.
  • What kind of event is it and what’s involved in the event? Some functions, such as sports, are generally riskier than others.
  • Is alcohol being served at the event? Serving alcohol at an event can increase risks dramatically.

Do I need alcohol liability insurance?

In some instances, serving alcohol may warrant a separate insurance policy. You or your business may be legally responsible for the people who consume alcohol at your event. Alcohol liability insurance can mitigate these risks. This sort of policy is similar to event liability insurance, except it protects you from lawsuits related to alcohol at your event. 

If someone becomes inebriated and harms themselves, someone else, or a piece of property, you could be liable for damages. Although event liability insurance may include damages related to alcohol, it’s best to double-check. 

Event insurance is an essential part of reducing the risks of any function to you or your business plans. Event insurance can encompass several types of policies, but event liability insurance is often the most important. Event liability insurance ultimately protects you or your business from lawsuits, providing you with peace of mind and making sure you don’t end up in legal debt. 

COVID risks for special events

It’s no secret that COVID has changed how people do many things, and events are no exception. With the emergence of COVID, most insurance companies have added exclusions for bacteria, virus, fungi, and other biohazards that could trigger business interruption losses. This is why it is more important than ever to make sure you have proper health and safety protocols in place. 

These protocols are a minimum requirement for ensuring your guests’ wellbeing. If you have a live component to your event, you should go above and beyond the minimum standards, so that every guest feels safe and comfortable. Live streaming is a new trend in technology that can provide a great option for guests who can socially distance easily while meeting guests where they feel safe to engage with the event. It is important to note that to do this effectively, you are actually putting on two simultaneous events — live and virtual — and need to construct and deliver them with the guest experience in mind. It’s also important to keep in mind that all vendors should agree to comply with the protocols you’ve put in place, and are adequately insured themselves. 

“The best way to mitigate risks associated with COVID is to practise the health and safety protocols provided to us by our respective health authorities.” said Contardi. “Engaging your community through virtual or hybrid events is a great option, when done well. This is unknown territory for many people, hence UeventPRO.com. We are empowering clients with great resources, tools, and vetted event professionals to create engaging experiences however they are delivered.”

Adrian Zee

Adrian Zee is a freelance writer and a student at Osgoode Hall Law School. Previously, he studied management and writing at Western University and worked in the data & analytics industry. Adrian is also a part-time food writer and photographer at DailyHive/DishedTO.