• Catherine France

Holding a live event? 3 types of insurance you need to know about

Updated: May 16, 2019

If you are a small business then a great way to grow your business by holding live events, workshops, masterminds or attending trade fairs.

If you are, then the chances are that you could have a financial loss if one of these events didn’t go to plan, you could even face some hefty costs not to mention the PR nightmare that might be created.

Good news is that event insurance is available to effectively outsource the risk to someone else i.e. the insurer.

Event insurance could be right solution for you need to cover the costs or out of pocket expenses you suffer if your event is cancelled or abandoned but there is quite a lot to take into consideration.

This article covers 3 main areas, as follows;

  • The types of cover available

  • What isn't usually covered with an event insurance policy

  • How you should approach insurance for your event and what you need to think about before you get a quote.

Whether you are looking for a one-off policy or annual cover the key sections of an event insurance policy are;

  • Cancellation and Abandonment

  • Property

  • Liability Cover

Cancellation and Abandonment

Cancellation insurance provides cover for the expenses you cannot recover if the event is cancelled, postponed, abandoned, curtailed or relocated as a result of a cause which is entirely beyond your control. This could include adverse weather, but insurers are likely to be cautious if the event it held outdoors or in a temporary structure like a marquee or tent this cover could be more expensive.

You’ve booked a swish London venue but on the day of the event the venue call and advise that due to a serious power failure, you will not be able to hold the event there. Cancellation insurance would reimburse your irrecoverable costs & expenses.


Your property can be included, and cover is usually available for loss or damage at the event or in transit to and from it. Insurers may give you the option to repair, rebuild or replace the lost or damaged property you may also have the option to include cover for technical equipment or marquees.

You’ve hired a PA system to add great sound quality to your event. At the end of the event, you notice that a microphone is missing. Without the right insurance cover, you would be liable for all replacement costs.

Liability Cover

Public Liability covers compensation payable to a third-party, following actual or alleged accidental bodily injury or damage to their property.

A whiteboard you have erected becomes unstable and collapses on to a delegate at your seminar. The delegate finds you, as the event organiser, negligent and makes a claim against you for third party bodily injury.

Employers’ liability covers defence costs and/or damages following an injury to someone working for you at the insured event. In the UK it is a statutory requirement for employers to hold employers’ liability cover for full-time, temporary staff and volunteers.

A volunteer at your flagship annual event, operating under your instruction, suffers an injury when they fall down the stairs at the venue. The volunteer believes you to be at fault as you didn’t provide adequate safety precautions and a claim follows.

Each insurer will have other things which can be added to an event policy depending on the type of event, this can include; crisis containment cover to reduce the risks after a cancellation or abandonment, non-appearance of a speaker or entertainer. There are also specific types of event insurance policy for weddings, firework displays, music events and festivals.

What is not or might not be covered;

Some of the more common exclusions on an event policy are;

  • War

  • Terrorism

  • Riot

  • Strikes or Industrial Action

  • Death of the Monarch including Court Mourning

  • Financial Failure

  • Lack of Sales

  • Contractual Liability

If your event bombs, in the sales sense, and you don’t sell enough (or any tickets) you are out of pocket for the venue and advertising costs you can’t claim for this on the policy. Any loss has to be as a result of something which is covered under the policy.

That said, insurance is confusing and while a lot of event policies have some fairly standard exclusions, some insurers will allow you to add this cover back in at an additional cost, but they may also want more information and impose terms and conditions.

The more sections required and the higher the sums insured, the greater the risk. This will be reflected accordingly in the premium.

What to consider before organising the next Glastonbury

It is worthwhile when you are planning an event to think about the insurance implications to avoid high insurance costs or risk of not being able to insure it further down the line. For instance, a local fete and a large musical festival will attract different premiums due to the different nature of these two events.

The number of anticipated visitors each day and for the total event are also important. A higher number of visitors increases the risk exposure, which means more chance of someone tripping over and hurting themselves and blaming you.

Certain activities will attract a higher rating, such as bonfires, fireworks, music, fairground and amusement rides, live animals, circus acts or stunt acts or water sports make underwriters go pale and start twitching. I had a client who once called me two days before bonfire night to insure a firework display inside the disused structure of Battersea Power Station – so I can highly recommend planning ahead.

In respect of weather cover, a number of insurers stipulate that the policy must be purchased at least 14 days in advance of the event for adverse weather to be included. I was going to say if your event is indoors this might not be a concern, but this is England and one flurry of snow can grind cities to a halt!

If you are holding a number of events it might be worth considering an annual multiple event policy rather than an event or exhibitor policy or a single policy. So, if you know you are going to be hosting a number of mastermind groups once a quarter at the same venue, with roughly the same set up a multiple event policy should be more economic, both financially and in terms of time spent organising, than a single event policy.

Where is the event going to take place? Is it a permanent fixture such as a hotel, shared working space, village hall or a temporary venue like a marquee? Length of the event, time and date, total number of visitors, location, details of any sub-contractors.

For any type of insurance policy, you will be asked for additional information such as, occupation, previous claims history, any convictions or county court judgements. This information is to make sure that you are not a moral hazard and will act in accordance with the terms and conditions of the policy and be truthful when explaining the risk and providing information to the insurer.


  1. Will the standard cover be enough, or are any extensions required to include additional cover, such as for adverse weather cover, terrorism, non-appearance?

  2. Are all of your risks (particularly the property risks, cancellation and abandonment, public and employer's liability) covered?

What else to look for:

  1. The Policy Excess– the first bit of the claim you are responsible for paying

  2. Exclusion of thefts from unattended vehicles – make sure you are not caught out

  3. Exclusion of dangerous activities under the public liability section

  4. The requirement that contracts with suppliers must be in writing

  5. In respect of weather cover, the requirement that the policy must be purchased at least 14 days in advance of the event

  6. The procedures that need to be followed in respect of cover for fireworks.

Where to find the right insurance:

If you already have insurance through a broker, then I would ask them first to see if they can help you arrange the cover. If you don’t work with a broker, you can find brokers in your local area with a quick search online or a recommendation from someone you know can be just as useful. Alternatively, if you want to you can contact insurers directly, there are lots advertising online (this is not an advert for anyone!), make sure you do your due diligence and check they are registered with the FCA and based in the UK.

As always the information in this post is fairly general and is designed to be a guide to the subject matter, there will always be differences in the requirements you require which are specific to your event. If you would like to book a 1-2-1 call with me, please drop me a message at catherine@catherinefrance.com

If you need help trying to find an insurance broker, you can read my blog How to Find a Good Insurance Broker in the UK here.

Coming Soon: Holding events at home?

I am writing a post about all the things you need to consider if you have clients visit you at home or if you hold seminars or workshops at home.

To find out first sign up to my mailing list here: Send it to me please!

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