Hurricanes, snowstorms, labor strikes, and accidents are just a few circumstances that can disrupt meetings and cost big bucks. How do you know which kind of insurance will offer the best protection for your organization and your events? Here’s a sampler of what’s out there:
Event Cancellation Insurance. Force majeure clauses in hotel contracts cover many of the same contingencies as cancellation insurance. But force majeure clauses only render the contract null and void; they don’t protect an organization’s investment in a meeting should it be canceled in part or in full. Cancellation insurance “allows you to return all or a portion of fees for attendance or exhibiting and sponsorship,” says Jack Buttine, Buttine Event Insurance, New York, N.Y. “It allows you to pay all incurred expenses and keep your anticipated profit.” This applies to all sizes of meetings, including smaller events.

Hurricanes, labor strikes, fires, power outages, snowstorms, floods, earthquakes, and other adverse weather conditions are all usually included in the coverage. Loss due to reduced attendance or failure of exhibitors to be able to travel to the event may also be covered in some policies, while terrorism and communicable diseases may be covered in others. Always confirm what exactly is covered and what isn’t, as policies have exclusions.

Commercial General Liability. Two types of commercial general liability policies may come into play here: One is for organizers and the other is for exhibitors, says Buttine. Organizers’ policies cover allegations of bodily injury or property damage at meetings. Most hotels require it in their lease indemnity or insurance provisions.
“You will want to buy a policy that covers all meetings and events for a full year,” says Buttine. Standard coverage is $1 million per occurrence, with a $2 million annual aggregate limit. Exhibitors’ policies cover allegations of bodily injury, slips and falls in or around a show booth, or property damage to the venue. It is a low-cost item and provides a type of insurance that exhibitors cannot get anywhere else, says Buttine.

Umbrella Liability. Umbrella liability provides additional insurance coverage in the event of a major bodily injury or property damage claim. As “public assembly” activities, tradeshows, and events have the potential for catastrophic claims to occur. Umbrella liability supplements the insurance available in your commercial general liability policy. Limits as high as $5 million to $10 million are common, and many venues will require a $5 million umbrella liability policy, says Buttine.

Worker’s Compensation. This covers a company if an employee or independent contractor is injured at a meeting or event.

Travel Insurance. Travel insurance is particularly useful for corporations or associations that pay for flight arrangements for a large group. Individuals who make their own arrangements can also buy their own policies. Travel insurance covers not only cancellation for sickness of the employee if they can’t travel, but may also cover cancellation due to work reasons, says Dan Skilken, CEO,
Also covered are trip interruptions and travel delays. For example, if attendees get stuck due to weather delays, their hotel charges will be covered. Additional charges for changing flights in order to make it to the meeting are covered as well. If a volcanic eruption prevents them from returning home on their scheduled departure, travel insurance covers hotel and food costs during the layover. If someone has to be hospitalized, travel insurance will also cover the medical costs.