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by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | June 01, 2016
Securing event insurance might not be at the top of every planner's to-do list, but it should be. Hurricanes, snowstorms, no-show speakers, fires, power outages and labor disputes are just some of the perils that can disrupt an event. Now toss in a swift-moving pandemic like the current Zika virus, or previous outbreaks such as SARS and swine flu, and that carefully planned convention or conference could easily be derailed.

Low attendee turnout, postponement or outright cancellation of an event are just some of the scenarios that can result from any of the above, and the financial fallout for stakeholders could be astronomical.

The process of choosing adequate event insurance is far from simple, however. For insights about the different types of policies and what they cover, M&C spoke to several insurance providers who specialize in the meetings and conventions industry. Think of their expert recommendations as required inoculations for your next event.


Event liability insurance
Also known as commercial general liability (CGL), this insurance protects the event holder and the venue against allegations brought by third parties on a number of issues, both on the trade-show floor and during related off-site events or outings. These include property damage or theft, bodily injury, and even libel and slander.

In our increasingly litigious society, this coverage is critical, because it is highly likely the show organizer will be cited in a lawsuit, even if it had no responsibility for the alleged loss. This is the coverage that venues require event organizers to have. The amount of coverage mandated depends on the particular venue.

What it costs. The premium is based on a number of factors, including location and type of event, total number of days of coverage (move-in and move-out days should be included), the number of people attending, as well as any additional riders, such as automobile and workers' compensation insurance.

According to Jack Buttine, president of New York City-based John Buttine Insurance, a national brokerage firm, a standard CGL policy has no deductible and provides a covered limit of $1 million per occurrence, with a $2 million annual aggregate.

The preferred partner of the Dallas-based International Association of Exhibitions and Events since 2002, Buttine developed IAEE's Exhibition/Special Event Liability program for its members. The program does allow for higher limits of insurance, because some venues, such as New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, demand more. Javits, Buttine notes, requires show organizers to have $5 million in liability coverage.


Auto liability
Strange as it might seem, another venue-required insurance is automobile liability. Just imagine a scenario where a delivery truck backs into a loading dock, or someone drives a car onto the trade-show floor and damages a column. Auto liability covers claims that arise from accidents that happen while using rented or personally owned vehicles, including damage to parked cars on the venue's site.

What it costs. "It is never very expensive," notes Buttine. "Usually $200 to $500 per show. It is usually purchased as a rider to the CGL policy."