On September 28, 2019, an eighteen-year-old man was struck and killed by a vehicle at an event held at Lousiana Mudfest, a small, family-owned business.
Every day, all across America, schools, businesses, committees, cities, counties, non-profit organizations, and more plan and host events.
Event types range from concerts, festivals, homecomings, fundraisers, car shows, carnivals, parties—the list never ends. Each one of these events should have special event insurance.
We all love a good event, but no matter how much care goes into planning them, accidents happen. There are numerous examples of incidents occurring during a special event every day. If you don’t think your organization will suffer this fate, think again. It’s only a matter of time.
It would be best if you had special event insurance because society has become more litigious than ever. It’s essential to protect yourself, your business, and your employees from worst-case scenarios.
If you’ve never purchased special event insurance before, keep reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
What Is Special Event Insurance?
Before you can understand what special event insurance covers, you should know what constitutes a special event. A special event is any planned event that is non-routine and brings together a large number of people.
Special event liability insurance protects businesses and their event planners from a variety of hazards in specific areas of focus. While there is general event liability insurance, there are more precise policies that protect against a range of potential dangers that can negatively impact an event.
Let’s take a look at an example of special event insurance in action.
Perhaps you work for a non-profit, and you’re planning your annual fundraiser. You rent out a ballroom, hire a catering company, conduct a silent auction, and host a dinner for your biggest donors.
What happens if one of your attendees drinks too much and gets into a car accident? Or one of the waitresses accidentally sets a curtain on fire? Who pays for any damages that occur to the ballroom?
If you’ve hosted events in the past, you know that things happen—what can go wrong will go wrong. The host of the part is legally responsible when things go sideways.
When you’re covered by special event insurance, you can rest assured knowing your coverage pays for any liabilities—so you don’t have to.
Even if you don’t think you need insurance, some venues are now requiring hosts to carry some kind of event planner insurance.
Special Event Insurance Hazards
As a leader of a non-profit, business owner, or event planner, there are several reasons you might host a special event for your clients or staff—or sponsor events such as galas, carnivals, conferences, exhibitions, and more.
When the need to host an event arises, you must ensure your company is adequately insured against any liability.
Even the best and most seasoned event planners will tell you that you face a lot of risk before and during an event. Many of the potential hazards may be out of your control.
For example, you can own a venue, and a client can cancel their event at the last minute. Or, worse, a client sustains a bodily injury during an event you host, or there is property damage at your venue.
Events like this can generate claims against the host, planner, or sponsors. To protect yourself, your business, and your clients from a lengthy and expensive lawsuit, you should get special event insurance.
Several hazards could present the need for special event coverage beyond basic event liability insurance.
If you plan to serve alcohol at your event, or you intend to sell alcohol, you must be protected against alcohol-related accidents.
For example, a rowdy guest could have too much to drink and get into an altercation with another guest that results in injuries or property damage. Liquor liability coverage, found within an event liability policy, will protect you as the host or planner against any financial losses stemming from a claim.
Most, if not all, events serve food. What if one of your attendees has an allergic reaction because your catering vendor didn’t correctly label the buffet with potential allergens?
If a guest ends up in the hospital, they can send you the bill—or take you to court.
A lot of technology and equipment are needed to pull off a successful event. While it sounds like a nightmare, projectors, screens, sound systems, or any other equipment could fall and break during your event.
If any of the above issues cause damages to the venue, you will be responsible for covering the bill unless you have liability insurance for an event.
Cancellation or Postponement
Inevitably, you will plan an event that gets canceled or postponed. Speakers or guests may back out at the last minute. Contracts will be broken.
Accidents can and will happen at almost any kind of special event. A guest might slip and sustain an injury; attendees could get into a fight and injure innocent bystanders. A guest may drink too much and slip and fall on their way out of the door.
Any of these incidents can result in a claim against you or your company.
Special Event Insurance Coverages and Add-Ons
Depending on the type of event you plan to throw, you can get insurance coverage for almost anything. Event liability insurance typically covers property damage, alcohol-related incidents, and bodily injury. But what about other hazards?
Event Cancellation Coverage
Above, we talked about how things change at the last minute, and events are canceled all of the time. Event cancellation coverage can protect you by reimbursing you for fees lost due to deposits and other expenses—should something happen that causes you to cancel or delay your event.
For example, if your wedding officiant ends up in the hospital the day before your wedding and you have to postpone, insurance may help pay the fees associated with rescheduling the florist, venue, and other vendors.
Most special event liability insurance only covers what is clearly listed in your policy. Your agent will help you understand your coverage and limits. Be sure to ask what is explicitly covered and isn’t covered.
Liquor Liability Coverage
Liquor liability insurance covers you if you’re serving or selling alcohol at your event. This protects you from a lawsuit if one of your employees or attendees drinks too much alcohol and:
- Is involved in an accident
- Damages property
- Injures someone
Yes, you’re liable if someone at your event drinks too much, gets in a car, and injures someone—even after your event. Check your state’s social host laws–these laws make planners, hosts, and servers liable for their guests’ actions even when the party is over.
You can still be sued for negligence, even in states that do not observe social host laws.
If you’re a planner involved in planning a wedding and the groom drinks too much champagne and backs into the reception hall as he’s leaving with his new bridge, you can be liable. Liquor liability insurance can protect you from this risk.
Hired Auto Liability Insurance
If you rent vehicles for your event, consider asking your agent about hired auto liability insurance. This coverage kicks in to cover auto-related injuries to any property damaged by the car.
Third-Party Damage Insurance
If the venue incurs any damage at your event, third-party damage insurance may help. Damages may include broken tables, dishware, chairs, stains or spills, and other related damages.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
You should get workers’ compensation insurance if you hire anyone to work your event. This insurance protects your employees in case any injuries occur while they’re on the clock. The coverage will help pay the cost of medical care due to injury.
Employees who fail to get workers’ compensation insurance can become liable for the cost of an employee’s medical benefits for life. Most states require workers’ compensation insurance.
While it may seem extreme, you should consider terrorism insurance, depending on the type of event you’re planning.
If you’re hosting a basic company party, it’s unlikely you need to invest in terrorism insurance. However, if you’re holding a public concert, you may want to consider it as protection if an act of terrorism occurs.
You may never need one or two of these insurance types, but it’s beneficial to know they’re available to you if necessary.
Waiver of Subrogation
Certain vendors will ask planners to provide a waiver of subrogation. This waiver protects the vendor if something happens, your insurance company cannot come after them for money. This fact stands true even if the filed claim is due to the vendor’s negligence.
If a vendor asks you about a waiver of subrogation, talk to your agent before agreeing to anything.
Events Not Covered
Not all events are covered by special event insurance. Public events, such as sporting events, dance recitals, and exhibitions, typically cannot fall under this coverage. This is the same for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
Certain company functions, such as private corporate parties or fundraisers, may not be eligible. You should go directly to your insurance agent if you have questions regarding coverage.
What to Ask Before Purchasing Event Insurance
Before you start your search for event liability insurance, check with your credit card companies to see if any coverage is provided through them. You can also check your homeowners, auto insurance, or any other insurance policy you have.
When you reach out to an agent, ask them to specifically list what is and is not covered by the policy. Always ask how much the insurance costs and what the reimbursement process entails in the event of a claim.
Ask your insurance agent if there is a time restriction on when to purchase a special event insurance policy before you begin planning your event.
Lastly, determine whether your vendors and event venue have liability coverage before deciding on a policy for yourself or your company.
Should You Pay for a Damage Waiver from a Vendor?
Oftentimes, your vendors will ask for a damage waiver.
There has been debate over whether or not a damage waiver is worth it because there have been incidents where damage waivers don’t completely cover rental costs. This leaves you responsible for paying for the repairs that the waiver doesn’t cover.
Purchasing a damage waiver is usually a smart decision, as it helps cover any damage or losses related to any rented or borrowed item.
If you’re looking to ensure that every item at your event is covered, paying for a damage waiver isn’t a bad idea. Just do your due diligence and determine what is and isn’t covered before you sign.
How Much Will an Event Insurance Policy Cost?
The cost of your policy will largely depend on your event, your insurance policy, and how much coverage you wish to buy.
Certain events are riskier than others and require a more significant amount of coverage. You may have to choose some of the policies above, which each have their own cost.
Regardless of which coverage you invest in, you are only paying a small percentage of that through a premium. Reach out to your agent for a special event insurance quote for the most accurate numbers.
Don’t Get Caught Without Proper Event Insurance Coverage
As an event planner or party host, you must consider every little—and catastrophic—thing that can go wrong. And it would help if you had a plan for each scenario so that you’re never caught off guard.
Preparation can help you avoid disaster, especially when planning events that carry excess risks. Protect yourself, your company, and your guests with a special event insurance policy provided by LoPriore Insurance.
Before you start planning your next event, contact us for a quote.