Event planning and insurance over the last couple of years has become more complicated with the advent of virtual and hybrid meetings. These meetings tend to be more expensive, particularly a hybrid meeting and losses, should something go awry can be even more costly.
Due to the rise in the number of virtual and hybrid events, the insurance industry is slowly changing to be able to respond to the challenges of hybrid and virtual events. New virtual event cancellation policies are now available with some insurance carriers.
On first blush a virtual event looks like there is little or no risk on planning and hosting. We tend to focus on the liability for slip and falls, damage to the premises, and basic cancellation coverages and think we are good to go. However, there are a myriad of other exposures that need to be considered when putting together your insurance program.
Hybrid events are more difficult than in person or virtual events. Hybrid events need to be analyzed using different metrics in order to establish what the risks are and what are the corresponding insurance needs. Depending upon the split in attendance, a hybrid event will have a significantly different risk profile.
For example, if a hybrid event has a higher in person attendance, then there is a higher propensity for slip and fall claims and property damage. If there is a higher percentage of attendance for virtual, then broadcasting issues and streaming content will be the higher risk level.
First of all, let’s review what are the basic coverages you would want for a 100 per cent in person event:
- Commercial general liability to respond to bodily injury and property damage.
- Professional liability – economical loss to the event planner should an error be made in the planning or execution of the event.
- Event cancellation – generally for weather related events, damage to the event premises prior to the event that results in cancellation.
- Liquor liability if there is an exposure.
Virtual/Hybrid Event Cancellation Extensions
Typical extensions can include if an event is cancelled due to a transmission failure. First party coverage is available to include organizational costs, expenses or gross revenue from advertising and ticket sales. Cancellation coverage for virtual and hybrid events can extend to:
- Failure or malfunction of any necessary facilities, which can include satellite, video, webinar, webcast or internet, communication links, power supply and equipment necessary for the proper fulfilment of virtual transmission.
- Protection for loss of revenue or expenses when an event has to be cancelled, relocated or postponed and can include adverse weather, natural catastrophe and non-appearance of key individuals.
- Transmission failures resulting in disruption or cancellation of virtual gatherings – this exposure is typically excluded from a standard event liability policy and is something that needs to be included for virtual and hybrid events. Weather related power failures take on an even greater importance.
- Cyber and privacy issues – are participants paying on-line? Important to make sure that there are no exclusions relating to this. Is there personal or corporate information to protect at the event or AGM meeting?
- Broadcasting issues – exposure from failure to warn of sensitive content, sensitivity to strobe lighting, inadequate sound or video feeds, damage to specialized broadcasting equipment.
- Media liability.
- Cybersecurity – malicious cyber attacks or data breaches.
A virtual or hybrid event requires more tailoring of the coverage to adequately address the exposures. Working with your broker to design and tailor the coverage to your specific needs is even more important with these events as well as working with an insurance carrier who understands the exposures.
Karen Ritchie is a senior vice president and joint venture partner with Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers and Hargraft Insurance Brokers LP. She is a past president of the Toronto Insurance Council.