Tracey Ackerman on how insuring against adverse weather can be an essential part of an outdoor event’s planning
As an event organiser, or a venue owner, you have control over a lot of things when it comes to hosting an event. Whether that’s the catering, the entertainment, ticketing or marketing, I see first hand the amount of work that goes into taking an event from a concept to a reality.
But more than that, organising an event can prove to be costly, and it is becoming increasingly common for people to look to try to recover their costs if the event they are organising is forced to cancel.
In boring insurance jargon, event cancellation insurance is designed to return the event organiser (including an attendee such as an exhibitor) back to the original financial position they would have been in should the organised event not take place. So, standard cancellation cover generally provides for your irrecoverable costs incurred as a result of the unavoidable cancellation, abandonment or postponement of the event.
However, there are several extensions to cancellation insurance that provide cover to include certain circumstances that may be excluded from a standard cancellation policy. The common ones include adverse weather, non appearance cover and, sadly, terrorism cover. So as part of this series, I’d like to give you a bit more information about adverse weather cover, and why you might want to consider adding this extension to your cancellation policy.
The one thing that no event organiser can control is the weather. It doesn’t matter if you choose to have your event in the peak of summer, all outdoor event organisers fear that their event will be ruined or cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. We have all seen the pictures from Glastonbury with festival go-ers swimming in mud, despite it being held in June, ostensibly in the middle of summer!
If you are holding an outdoor event, no matter in which month, it is always wise to consider adding an adverse weather extension to your policy.
When considering an outdoor, weather exposed event, the information your insurer will ask for varies depending on the nature of the event. Generally, it would be wise to consider points such as:
Is the event taking place on firm or soft standing surfaces?
What weather conditions would cause a problem for this event?
Does the event site have a history of flooding?
Has the event been held at the same time of year and location before?
What contingency plans are in place to mitigate the impact of adverse weather?
If the weather does take a turn for the worse, either in the lead-up to the event or on the day itself, the advice from my claims manager is always to proceed as if you didn’t have insurance in place. For example, if there is a light scattering of snow but the event could still go ahead, even though it might suffer a risk of reduced attendance, the insurer would expect you to carry on.
If there really is no other option, any claim for cancellation as a result of adverse weather would need to meet the following conditions:
The health and safety officer attending the event deems the weather to be so severe that it would be dangerous to continue
Photographic evidence and Met Office records to support the adverse weather conditions claim should be supplied
Your adverse weather conditions policy must have been purchased at least 14 days prior to the event.
Cancelling your event should always be a last resort, and your insurer should always be willing to work with you to rearrange your event rather than cancelling it altogether. I have been lucky enough to work with the iconic St. Andrews Fashion Show, and when their 2017 Show was unable to go ahead due to extreme winds we rearranged the entire event in under a week and they were able to go on and have an extremely successful show which raised £30,000 for their charity partner.
St Andrews Fashion Show
Now entering its 25th year, the St Andrews Fashion Show is the UK’s largest and most successful student-run fashion event. The organisers have two clear missions: the first, to leave their attendees feeling more, alive, exhilarated and hopeful than ever; the second to raise a significant donation for their nominated charity partner.
With the Telegraph newspaper commenting that past events felt more like a New York fashion gala than a student event, and with their charity partner receiving a cheque for £30,000 last year, the organising committee are renowned for their successes.
The 2017 theme was announced as “On The Pulse”, looking to capture the energy and vitality of the fashion industry today. With showcases from Serge de Nimes, Theory, Brooks Brothers, John Varvatos and Chiara Ferragni, the event was set to be one of the best yet.
Unfortunately, as the event date approached, the weather took a turn with an early Autumn storm bringing high winds, which in turn created potential safety issues at the venue. Bruce, one of the event organisers, explained: “There was a very strong wind blowing through the marquee, moving the whole structure. This was creating problems with the lighting rigs which were swaying considerably due to the strong gusts of wind”. Staff were instructed to evacuate the marquee, and it was deemed to be too dangerous for people to attend, and the show had to be cancelled with immediate effect.
“As you can imagine, our guests, sponsors, charity partners and the committee members who had worked tirelessly over the course of many months, were utterly disappointed that the show could not go ahead. I wanted to do everything possible to rearrange the event, so I contacted our insurers, Event Insurance. They covered all of our costs to rearrange the event under our policy, and worked really hard with us to make it happen as quickly and smoothly as possible.”
Lucy Minns, head of claims for Event Insurance, said: “It was such a pleasure to be able to work with the fantastic team at St Andrews to help them rearrange their event, and that it went on to be another huge success.”
In less than a week, the organisers rearranged the event and it raised £30,000 for their charity partner, the Brain Tumour Charity.
The cancellation of an event is not the only concern to organisers. They are also at risk of wet weather resulting in a drop in “walk up” attendance which can be a critical source of income to supplement advanced ticket sales. The loss of revenue that follows can play havoc with the financial health of even the best planned events.
Cancellation plus offers event organisers the ability to guarantee a proportion of their income if wet weather keeps people away. Cancellation plus is for event organisers who have held their event before, and provides coverage for outdoor events including festivals, concerts and sporting events.
This extension to a standard cancellation cover enables you to recover lost income for events in the UK that are not cancelled, but may suffer from reduced attendance or early attendee departures due to rainfall
20% off your cancellation cover when you take out cancellation plus
Your event does not have to be cancelled in order to benefit from cancellation plus
Receive 20% of the total insured revenue, up to £50,000, when it rains at your event in your selected time zone
There is no onus on you to provide proof of lost revenue
You can choose multiple time and date options which are extendable by request
£50,000 insured revenue is extendable by request
I hope this has given you some reassurance that having to abandon, postpone or even cancel your event doesn’t have to be as costly as you may fear. The best advice I could give you is to involve your insurer from the very beginning, and treat them as an extension of your planning committee. Your insurer or broker should be willing to visit you on site to discuss potential mitigation tactics, and to talk to you about all the cover options that are available to you, to ensure you have the cover you need.
About the Author
Tracey Ackerman is a key account manager at Event Insurance Services. If you need cancellation cover in excess of £100,000 or would like to discuss any of the products referred to in this article, then please give her a call directly on 01425 470360. www.events-insurance.co.uk