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September 9, 2008
By: Ed Pugh

Ed Pugh:Consider the risks

When planning an event, it is crucial to consider every eventuality and to plan for the unexpected. With this in mind, the sales and marketing manager at Hiscox Event Insurance has the following top ten risk management tips for organisers.

There are many things that can go wrong with an event that could put your employees and delegates at risk, which could have severe legal implications, not to mention the financial impact of disaster striking. Assessing the risks from the outset and making sure you’re prepared for them can help put your mind at rest. Here are the top ten areas to consider

1. Carry out a full risk management exercise
Do this as early as possible in the planning stages of the event, either a formal written exercise for a large event, or asking the question °ßwhat could go wrong?°® and putting measures in place to minimise risks. You will never be able to  completely remove risk, so consider taking out an event insurance policy for circumstances that are outside your control.

2. Prepare documentary evidence

Clear written proof of thorough risk management procedures will help defend you against liability claims if someone attending the event claims to have been injured. It may also help lower your insurance premium.

3. Make sure your suppliers are insured

Your sub-contractors will need to have their own public liability insurance, as this will be a condition of your own liability insurance policy.  You do not want to face a claim because a subcontractor does not have their own insurance.

4. Don’t forget volunteers' rights
Remember that volunteers have many of the same legal rights as full or part time employees and will need to be covered by Employers°¶ Liability insurance, which is mandatory under UK law.

5. Insure against event cancellation well in advance
Event organisers often choose to insure against cancellation or curtailment.  If you wish to do so, make the decision sooner rather than later, ideally immediately after booking the venue. Insuring early covers you for a longer period of time, probably at no additional cost. Remember that insurers will not cover incidents that have already happened or are about to happen. For example, adverse weather cover cannot be purchased if a severe storm is forecast imminently. 

6. Make sure your client’s covered

If you are running an event for another party, be sure to ask your client if they want to insure against cancellation. Your terms of business may state that your fees are non-returnable if the event is cancelled due to circumstances beyond your control. Even if your client is not in favour of insurance, raising this issue at an early stage will highlight their potential exposure and shows a professional approach.

7. Consider transportation issues that could affect your attendees

For example, if most of your guests are flying in from overseas, industrial action by air traffic controllers may result in empty seats at your event. Fortunately, you can insure against such a situation, enabling you to return delegate fees if attendance is affected.

8. Read the venue contract closely

It might impose requirements relating to insurance venues who may specify a limit of indemnity for public liability, sometimes up to £10 million.
9. Consider preparing a crisis management/disaster recovery plan

This should cover any major problems that may occur prior to or during the event. This is particularly important for events taking place in locations prone to natural catastrophes.  Incorporate a rehearsal of this plan into your preparations for the event.

10. Think about reputational damage

If something goes badly wrong, communication with the media to protect the 'brand' of your event is an important consideration. A good event insurance policy can help cover additional costs incurred in generating a positive message in difficult circumstances.

Ed Pugh is sales and marketing manager at Hiscox Event Insurance.

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