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Festival insurance – have you got it covered?

STA Patrons Bruce Stevenson's quick guide to insuring your festival and events in the run up to the festival season. 

Ahead of the Festival of Museums this month we were asked by the Museums Galleries Scotland –  to write about event insurance and making sure you plan ahead for when things go wrong. 

It is not something you enjoy thinking about when preparing for an event, but envisaging a worst case scenario is an essential part of event planning. If a flood occurs at your premises the night before an event, exhibits or parts of the building are damaged, the premises can’t be used and the event has to be cancelled. Would you be confident that your insurance policy will react as you would hope?

At times of celebration with special events and exhibitions, risk and insurance can sometimes be overlooked. Unfortunately, things don’t always run like clockwork. It can pay to be diligent in checking your insurance documentation as part of the early planning and organisational process. Like a lot of things in life, preparation is key. Therefore, if something does go wrong, you can be confident that you have adequate insurance in place. Some important questions you should ask your insurance broker before staging a public event or exhibition are:

  • Does our existing insurance programme cover us for staging, hosting and organising a public event(s) or exhibition(s)?
  • What happens if the event should be cancelled or abandoned due to circumstances beyond our control?
  • Who is responsible for insuring what?
  • Have I checked the Public Liability insurance of any Third Party contractors or suppliers to the event?

Commercial Insurance

As a Museum or Gallery, you are likely to have a commercial insurance policy that may cover some or all of your insurance needs: your property (buildings and contents), collections, loss of profits (business interruption), liabilities (public, product, employers and trustees), loss of licence, legal expenses, personal accident, money & assault and equipment breakdown (not an exhaustive list). As part of this purchase process you should have been asked for your full business description. This includes the details of any events or exhibitions you are likely to host throughout the policy period and any revenue they are likely to generate. This is then declared to the insurer who can often accommodate cover for the events/exhibitions within your commercial insurance package including any loss in income resulting from an insured peril (fire, flood, theft, accidental damage for example) under the property section of the policy.

Event Insurance

There may be an occasion when you need more specific insurance in respect of an event you are organising and hosting. Your event or exhibition could be affected by adverse weather and attendees can’t reach your venue in time or there has been a transport strike dramatically reducing the number of visitors or delegates. The insurer would pay the irrecoverable expenses to enable you to rearrange the event and your financial loss through reduced ticket sales if applicable. Remember that the insurance is not there to protect you against the commercial failure of the event. It is there to protect you in the event that you suffer a financial loss due to an unforeseen circumstance.

Less obvious points to note

When it comes to your collections, there are also elements of your insurance cover you should look out for. If you are hosting an exhibition which includes loans from third parties be sure that your policy has proper provision to cater for these. Especially if they are of unique historic or artistic importance. Some commercial policies do not provide cover for theft unless there is evidence of forcible or violent entry or exit to the premises. By their very nature, Museums & Galleries are open to the public. So, if a small sculpture is pocketed by an opportunist thief during an exhibition, will your policy react when there is no evidence of broken doors or windows? A specialist Museums policy would cover this, providing full theft cover.

If you are borrowing works from a National institution, they may request exclusions from your policy be removed. For example, losses arising from exposure to extreme light. Many commercial policies cannot be flexible on this and won’t remove their exclusions. Specialist Museum insurers are well versed in the requirements from National institutions and can usually accommodate such requests.

If you are staging events or exhibitions and have any questions regarding their insurance or any other insurance matters for your Museum or Gallery, please contact either Kerr Henderson or Alexandra Richards | 0131 553 2293 |

Last Modified: Wednesday 10 May 2017 05:24
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