Special Events Insurance is used to cover everything from a child's birthday party in the park to the Superbowl half-time show, and literally countless thousands of other events lasting from a few hours to a few weeks. Special Events Insurance is a term for a type of insurance that varies wildly in scope, but often refers only to limited liability coverage for injury or damage occurring during an event. It is an insurance product that particularly lends itself to misrepresentation and outright fraud because it is at times bought in a last minute, frantic rush to meet venue requirements, with little attention to insurer identity, actual policy content, or the broker offering it. Event producers may be so hopelessly preoccupied that they find themselves within a day or two of an event, only to be reminded (or told for the first time) by the venue about this little detail. Venue owners can and will refuse to permit an event, absent the required insurance certificate. If you find yourself in this situation,
read fast . . .

What it Costs  .    .    .   Common Venue Requirements
BEWARE the fine print and frauds.
Exclusions - What's not covered.
Damage to the Venue - "Third Party Property Damage"
Rides and Amusement Devices


What it Costs  .    .    .   Common Venue Requirements

Costs run from as little as $150-200 for a small family event to thousands (sky's-the-limit) for big concerts, fairs, hazardous sporting events, motor racing, etc. Smaller events considered relatively low-risk can usually be insured for $300-500.   Everything else is in between. These very approximate costs would represent premium for a common, limited liability policy with no enhancements.  Much depends on the expected attendance or gross revenue at the event. (Underwriters ask for this information to quantify risk & use it to determine your premium.) Special endorsements or modifications required by your venue (or by city or other governments) may drive the cost up.

There are super-cheap policies (About $100) around for very small events, i.e. weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, which contain many exclusions & effectively reduce the insurance to cover only the acts of the bridal party, honorees and/or guests. If you have homeowner's insurance that would fill in where the exclusions apply, the cheap policies may suit your need. Ask your agent.

Most policies offer optional insurance for such things as liquor liability, vehicles, venue damage, rented equipment or props, medical insurance for athletic or other participants, loss of revenue or costs due to event cancellation, etc. These items usually add considerable insurance expense.

Venues will usually expect at minimum a $1,000,000 general liability insurance policy, and most expect to be named on the policy as an "Additional Insured.".  They are, in general, surprisingly uninterested in reviewing actual policy language, however you need to be careful in asking for their requirements. Get their sample certificate or other written specs if at all possible; otherwise you risk having paid for insurance they will not accept. (And getting a refund on Special Events Insurance can be all-but-impossible, even when your event is canceled.) ... Back to Top ...

BEWARE the fine print and frauds.

In the vast majority of cases, special events insurance is bought shortly before the actual event, and policies arrive (if at all) sometime after the short-term insurance has run its course & expired. (Many programs operate using only certificates with reference to a master policy, and individual event policies aren't issued at all.)  It is therefore extremely important to get documentation of what insurance you're buying in advance.

You must also choose the days you're covering very carefully. Policies usually take effect at 12:01 A.M. on the indicated date, and expire at 12:01 A.M. on the indicated date. Claims for anything occurring outside the dates are simply not insured. If you have some pre-event set-up or other activities taking place, or takedown or other closedown activities, those dates must be included. If your social event is expected to end at 10 or 11 PM, but guests linger past midnight or will be traveling home past midnight, your insurance must include the following day or you risk having no insurance for what might be the most likely claims. If you are renting equipment, props, etc & the rental company requires insurance, you'll have to start coverage on the day you pick it up & continue it until the day after it's returned.

Fraud & misrepresentation may be very difficult to spot. One recently-arrested California broker reportedly has issued more than 2,700 - yes that's 2700 - fake policies to various entertainment, special events and sports clients since early 2001. (The wheels of the insurance department can crank very slowly indeed.)   He reportedly pocketed more than $3.8 Million in the first two years.

While the internet is a convenient & useful tool, it is also an insurance fraudster's dream come true. The fancy website that processes your quote may be run by some guy in his underwear at his bedroom computer in Bangladesh whose sole motivation is to obtain your credit card or bank routing number.  There are also more sophisticated schemes at work in the U.S. on a regular basis. Anyone who offers you insurance for $100 or so is highly suspect.   (Doesn't mean the policy is worthless, but likely to offer little-to-nothing in coverage.) Buying from an Internet-based program is often the best method, but you simply must establish some basic identifying information before you pay:

A) Find out the physical location address of the broker-agent & his/her state of residence and state license number.
B) Look up the license on your state insurance department and see if it's active.
C) Ask for the name of the insurance company (Not the agency name), financial letter rating and whether licensed in your state. (This should also be verified on your state insurance department website.)
D) Obtain a written, detailed quote & coverage description listing your event by title & location, exclusions, deductibles (if any), policy limits, the name of the insurance carrier, effective and expiration dates, total cost including fees, & payment terms. ... Back to Top ...

Exclusions - What's not covered.

This is a list which is limited only by the underwriters' imaginations, which is to say it is essentially endless. Some - and only some of the more common exclusions seen in special events insurance are:

Vendors (Your liability for acts of Photographers, caterers, entertainers, etc.) These policies usually much cheaper.
Liability for injuries to vendors.
Rides or mechanical or other amusement devices
Assault & battery (fights)
Liquor Liability - Host or Liquor Legal Liability (May be available as an option)
Autos - Vehicles (May be available as an option)
Workers' comp-employer's liability (Rarely available as an option & often hard to find.)   Anyone providing services to your event may attempt to collect benefits from you.
Liability for injury to participants in sports or other contests/activities (May be available as an option)
Intellectual property liabilities
Damage to the venue (May be available as an option)
Loss of revenue or expenses due to event cancellation (May be available as an option)
Rented props, equipment, etc. (May be available as an option)
Courtesy Medical Payments
Pyrotechnics (fireworks)
Professional liability/errors & omissions
Abuse or molestation
Stunts or racing
Overnight camping
Contractual Liability (Assumed liability.)
Collapse of temporary structures (Seating, Props, Rigging, etc.)

Weapons ... Back to Top ...

Damage to the Venue - "Third Party Property Damage"

Your event policy may exclude damage to the venue you're renting, and offer it as an option.  This exposure is commonly known in insurance parlance as "Third Party Property Damage," and subject to a separate limit.   When you signed for use of the venue, you probably assumed responsibility for damage to it somewhere in the fine print (and you likely would be legally responsible anyway), so depending on the size and nature of your event, this is an important coverage to consider.

Many event policies include damage to the venue only if caused by fire (arguably the most likely & costly cause) in the basic rate.... Back to Top ...

Rides and Amusement Devices

Rides or amusement devices or apparatus may be excluded by your event policy. If you have any such exposures, you will need to either purchase insurance separately or obtain ironclad documentation from the ride operator that insurance is supplied in adequate limits and with your name added as an additional insured. The risk in having an operator provide a certificate, however, is that the insurance certified may not, for numerous possible reasons be responsive. Examine certificates carefully and have your insurance agent review them as well.... Back to Top ...


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