Event Insurance: What Is It & Do You Need it for Your Events?

If someone gets hurt at your event, you’re forced to cancel it last minute, or your equipment gets damaged, what would that mean for your business?

When things go wrong, insurance is there to cover you, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry about unexpected bills and can keep your event running. It’s like having an umbrella on you when the weather suddenly turns.

Here at Eventbrite, we’ve spent the last 15 years supporting event creators worldwide in organising events of all shapes and sizes, from charity events and concerts to corporate team days, festivals, supper clubs, and workshops. 

So, we’ve got you covered.

To help you start your search for event insurance, we sat down with Martin Linfield, former Head of Event Insurance at Hiscox, to discuss why adequate insurance coverage is essential for anyone organising an event. 

Here are his expert tips.

Guests sitting outside at Dyketopia event

What type of insurance does an event planner need?

Event insurance includes various cover types that insurance providers can tailor into bespoke policies to protect event planners from a wide range of risks.

The word “risk” covers a lot of areas. Here are some examples:

  • Guests getting injured
  • Damage to equipment
  • Unexpected legal costs
  • Property damage
  • Event cancellation

By protecting yourself and your event from the financial cost of these risks, you can rest easy and focus on what really matters: planning an incredible event.

All these factors should be identified in your event business plan from the get-go. Check out our guide for tips on how to create a comprehensive plan.

“Pretty much every single event should have some kind of insurance; any event where there are attendees has some kind of exposure,” says Linfield.

The most popular types of event insurance are:

  • Public liability insurance
  • Employers’ liability insurance
  • Property insurance
  • Cancellation insurance

Let’s examine these coverage types and why an event planner might want to consider them.

Public liability insurance

“Public liability is the first building block of any event insurance portfolio,” says Linfield. Having public liability insurance safeguards you against claims in the event of someone getting injured at your event.

Although public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement if you’re planning an event in the UK, you’ll often still need coverage so that partners will work with you to stage the event. Other venue considerations you need to bear in mind include things like premises licenses and staffing.

Usually, the venue where the event is taking place will require the event organiser to submit a public liability insurance certificate because it’s unlikely the venue will want to cover any claims caused by the organiser’s negligence.

Guests sitting and eating at tables at All In Together Now Event

Employers’ liability insurance

Employers’ liability can cover claims if an employee or volunteer is injured. 

Employers’ liability is a legal requirement for most companies hiring staff in the UK — which means that if you’re planning an event and you need staff to help run it, you’re legally obliged to take out employers’ liability insurance.

Property insurance

Another type of insurance that many event organisers take out is property insurance.

Property insurance covers weather-related risks like damage caused by wind, snow, ice, rain, or lightning. But it also covers fire and smoke damage — regardless of whether that damage is from nature. That’s because property insurance usually protects event creators from vandalism and theft. 

Equally important, property coverage typically extends to cover equipment. That means you won’t be left out-of-pocket if somebody breaks your expensive AV system.

“Events are getting more sophisticated and organisers are bringing in increasing amounts of kit — like we saw at the Super Bowl recently!” says Linfield. “It would have cost a lot of money to bring that property in and the organisers would have cover for that.”

Event cancellation insurance

Cancellation insurance is often called ‘cancellation and abandonment insurance’ or ‘contingency insurance’.

This protects the event organiser’s budget, including the expenses and possibly some profit, which, added together, is the revenue. 

Any event organiser who would be financially at risk if the event didn’t occur or was postponed or curtailed should consider buying this type of cover. You never know what’s around the corner. Take 2020 for example, where 87% of business event professionals had cancellations.

“The need to cancel an event can occur through freak weather or the venue not being available on the day. In that situation, the venue will only refund the venue fee; they’re not going to pay for all the organiser’s other costs,” explains Linfield. 

“It’s for things beyond your control; it’s for the unexpected. Some of the biggest claims we’ve paid in the last few years have been related to ash clouds. This has been where events have had to be canceled or have been significantly affected because people have not been able to fly into the events.”

Event cancellation insurance typically takes the form of an indemnity policy, which offers event planners enough protection to put them back in the same financial position as if the cancellation had never happened.

According to Linfield, causes for cancellation can be incredibly wide-ranging. But, it doesn’t matter whether there’s been a freak accident or simply a double-booking error. Either way, you’ll be covered.

“We’ve had a murder in a venue where the venue had to be shut. We’ve had industrial action in Europe and the UK with trains going on strike. We’ve had the Uber taxi strikes which have affected events, with speakers unable to get into the venues. It’s all those kinds of things — the things you don’t think about,” he says.

“Most event organisers are brilliant at risk, and managing their way through a crisis, but once in a while, something happens where nobody can do anything about it. For example, when the ash cloud came down on Bali during a big conference, the delegates couldn’t fly out and the key speakers couldn’t get in. It was ‘an act of God’ that no one could have predicted.” 

A guest is fitted with beekeepers mask at an Intro to Beekeeping event

How much does event insurance cost?

You’ll find insurers offering various event insurance coverage in the UK for as little as £25. But the cost of insuring your event depends on a variety of factors — and so this figure can rapidly jump into the hundreds or even thousands.

Factors that tend to affect insurance costs include:

  • Event size
  • Venue location
  • Venue capacity
  • Event type
  • Event duration
  • Level of cover required

“It will be a mixture of the type of event, the number of people attending, how long the event is, and where it’s taking place,” says Linfield.“Are there any hazardous activities? The further up the scale of hazardous, the higher the price is likely to be.”

If you want to shop around and learn more about various event insurers and what they cover, Eventbrite’s online community might have some useful insights. 

You can also attend a range of in-person and online insurance events in the UK that enable you to network and get a better idea of what it’ll cost to insure your next event.

What type of activity is deemed hazardous?

To be clear: when insurers talk about ‘hazardous activities’, they’re not necessarily referring to skydiving. 

Every insurer will have its own list of hazards. But as a general rule of thumb, your insurer will probably flag your event if it includes any of the following:

  • Fireworks
  • A bonfire
  • Fairground rides
  • Inflatable play equipment
  • Circus or stunt acts
  • Obstacle courses
  • Sports matches
  • Trampolining
  • Gymnastics
  • Quad Bikes or go-karts
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Open water activities
  • Boats

The list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully, it gives you a starting point. If your event is associated with a stag or hen party, your insurer will normally classify this as inherently hazardous, too.

If your event does include a hazardous activity, don’t stress. It doesn’t mean it’s uninsurable — but it will probably increase the cost of coverage.

Band plays on stage at an Emmet Cohen Trio concert

What are the more unusual types of cover?

We’ve already covered some of the more common types of event insurance. But no two events are 100% alike — and if you’re planning something a bit more unique, you may need to contact your insurer about a more unusual type of cover.

“If the event organisers are going to some interesting places in the world they might want a kidnap and ransom policy,” says Martin Linfield.

“Then we’ve got cyber risks where websites are being hacked into and people are fraudulently stealing money off event organisers through phishing emails, so we can provide cover for that.”

If cyber security is a legitimate concern, you’ve got to make sure you’re using digital tools that will keep you and your guests’ data safe. 

For instance, Eventbrite uses a 256-bit SSL encryption and fully complies with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. That means your information is always secure, and your attendees’ data stays private.

“Another example is event organisers perhaps needing professional indemnity insurance,” Linfield says. “The reality is that the service provided can be challenged, and vulnerable to a claim of negligence when the advice or service fails to meet clients’ expectations.”

What are the most common claims that event insurers deal with?

Nobody organises an event thinking they’ll have to put in an insurance claim. 

Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong. That’s why insurance exists. Fortunately, the claims process is usually relatively straightforward.

After getting in touch with your insurer, you’ll need to fill out an online claims form outlining what happened and its impact on your event. Submission of this claim will kickstart the process — after which your insurer will get in touch and ask for additional information and documentary evidence.

“On the liability side, we get fairly frequent claims for allegations against event organisers, saying that they’ve been negligent because somebody has hurt themselves and then there’s a claim for compensation from the event organiser,” says Linfield.

“We also have frequent claims for property being lost or damaged at events, either by the weather or going missing after events.”

The exact timings and processes of an event’s insurance claim will vary from provider to provider.

Professional working at a desk. Image by Freepik.

How do insurers evaluate the right level of cover so event organisers know they’re properly protected?

If you’re new to event planning or are looking to insure a type of event you’ve never organised before, you might be wondering what the right level of insurance coverage actually is.

After all, you’ll want to avoid overpaying for coverage you don’t need. But on the flip side, you might not be able to afford to go uninsured just to save a couple of quid if something unexpected happens.

According to Linfield, that’s why event insurance providers are constantly working to reassess their processes and products to make sure event creators get the coverage they need.

“We regularly review our claims experience to see if there are any gaps and try to make sure our policies meet the needs of the customers. We go through any scenarios where we’ve not been able to pay a claim to see if there’s anything we can do to make sure it does cover people where it possibly can,” he explains.

“Every policy has terms, conditions, and exclusions and we always encourage everyone to read the summary of cover. It’s just one or two pages setting out the main areas of cover and significant exclusions.”

What are the usual exclusions?

With any event insurance package, you will run into some exclusions.

An exclusion is a provision in your event insurance policy that references things not covered by your policy. That could be any number of hazardous activities, circumstances, or types of property damage.

“With cancellation policies, one of the main exclusions is terrorism, but we automatically offer a quote for terrorism cover depending on the details provided to us — it’s what’s called an ‘extension of cover’,” says Linfield.

“The other main exclusions are a lack of interest in the event or lack of ticket sales. If you’re no longer able to finance the event, that also tends to be excluded.”

As an event planner, it’s critical that you fully understand any policy exclusions in your insurance product. You should be looking for a policy written in plain English that clearly outlines every exclusion you must be aware of.

And if English isn’t your native tongue, check with the insurer — you might be able to get the terms in a number of languages.

Guests doing yoga at Trap Yoga event

Where do people go wrong with their event insurance?

Now that we’ve looked at different covers, cost factors, and the claims process, it’s worth exploring where event planners tend to go wrong in the insurance process.

According to Linfield, the number one mistake event creators make is, “Not buying their event insurance early enough.”

“They should do it as early as possible because the period of their insurance is from the day they buy it to the end of the agreed cover period. As soon as they have spent some money, maybe securing the venue — even if the event is 12 months away — they have something there that is potentially non-recoverable,” he says.

“I see a lot of event organisers leave purchase until there is a major problem going on in the world. We’ve had a real increase in enquiries for terrorism cover for events in Paris and now the price has gone up because it’s more risky. Those who bought the cover before the Paris attacks would have got wider cover at a more competitive price.”

“To give another example, if Eurostar announced strikes for the next eight weeks, people whose events are dependent on getting across on Eurostar would find it more difficult to buy an event cancellation policy to cover them for that particular problem. Whereas at the moment there is no exclusion for Eurostar strikes because there are none planned.”

Another reason event planners need to take out insurance early is to ensure they can take advantage of ‘additional events cover’. This is particularly important if you’re looking at cancellation insurance.

According to Linfield, the best events insurance providers will often help to cover additional expenses beyond simply paying for the problem (or ‘proximate cause’).

“Say there’s a problem with the venue two months before the event, the insurer is going to help pay for the additional cost of moving the event to a new venue. That keeps the event going and the cost is likely to be less than if the event was off,” he explains.

“If an event organiser only buys their insurance a week before the event, then they’re not getting the full benefit of the policy, so the biggest piece of advice I can offer is: buy early!”

Taking out event insurance for your next event

At the end of the day, it’s essential to make sure you and your event are appropriately covered.

It doesn’t matter how well-organised your event is. There are always eventualities that can’t be planned, and insurance is there to protect you against the unforeseen.

Public and employee liability insurance is the minimum you should consider for any event. But going for the bare minimum isn’t always the best policy when planning a large and complicated event. That’s why you may want to consider cancellation, and extended coverage for contingency, property, or terrorism could prove a valuable investment.

As you know, planning an event extends way beyond insurance coverage. That’s just one of the many things you’ve got to juggle.

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