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Few phrases are as likely to elicit a groan as the dreaded ‘health and safety’. But behind the headlines about schools banning conker matches and burglars getting compensation for dog bites lies some life-saving legislation. And with the corporate manslaughter law clamping down on cases of corporate negligence, it’s even more important than ever for the events industry and its clients to insure themselves.
First and foremost, don’t assume you’re covered. Even if your company has existing insurance arrangements, check that they cover events, particularly those off site. Think about your cover early on in the planning process and put it in the budget – insurance can get more expensive the further down the line you buy it. This also allows your insurer to advise you in advance on what procedures you need in place, such as risk assessments and first aid on site.
Always get expert advice before choosing a policy and make sure you read the small print. Policies can be very different, so check what is included and to what value. Cancellations, postponements and public liability – which is compulsory for all companies – is the absolute minimum you can expect from your cover.
If a drunk guest at an event has an accident, whoever served them alcohol could be held responsible and fined. In the US, there is an add-on called ‘liquor liability’, but this doesn’t exist in the UK. In most cases, you will be protected through your public liability policy but it is worth checking this before the event, particularly if you’re hosting a Christmas party.
When getting a quote for your event, make sure you list all the activities that will be taking place. You may want to include property and equipment insurance on top of the basics, especially if you’ve hired £20,000 worth of marquee kit.
Make sure your suppliers – be it the furniture delivery men or the acrobats – have their own cover so that if they cause damage or injury, it can be dealt with by their insurers. If they don’t have insurance, you could be held responsible for their negligence.
Think about protection against extreme weather. After one of the wettest summers on record, the demand for this type of cover has increased. Make sure you buy it in plenty of time, or at least before the inclement weather has descended. If you try to insure against weather a month before your event because it has been raining for weeks, insurers won’t cover an existing problem. So no matter how far in advance you contact them, if the field you are holding your event on is already waterlogged, you will not be able to purchase insurance until it has dried out.
It’s a myth that everything from heavy rain to terrorism is dismissed by insurers as an ‘act of god’. Although the term does generally refer to freak natural phenomena like hurricanes and earthquakes, there’s no set definition, so if they’re not listed in your policy, ask your insurer to clarify what they are. Don’t wait until after the tornado to ask questions.
This article was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events Guide 2013.