Safety should be priority No. 1
Many for profit and not for profit organizations hold special events throughout the year. These can be tournaments, banquets, marathons, fundraisers, award ceremonies or simply family days that include fun activities and entertainment. A lot of planning and organization are required to ensure these events are successful. One element of the planning stage that should never be overlooked is determining whether your insurance program includes the coverage needed for a safe event for everyone involved – hosts, participants, volunteers, vendors and guests.
There are risks involved in hosting and managing special events that may require either added short-term or annual coverage. Beyond checking with your agent as to whether your event is adequately protected, below is a list of areas that require particular attention during the planning stages.
Vendors can include caterers, tent and equipment rentals, concessions, security, and parking attendants. It’s important to research your vendors well because poor service or a mishap on their part can spoil an entire event – think of the potential consequences of a collapsed tent or food poisoning. It’s critical that each of your vendors provide you with a valid certificate of insurance evidencing General Liability with a limit of at least $1 million each occurrence and that they can add your organization as an additional insured on their policy.
It’s not unheard of for the actual venue of an event to be a factor that causes an accident or injury claim. Stages can collapse, fire exits get blocked, and severe weather can trigger the need for fast evacuations. The more knowledge you have about the number of people attending the event, the electrical equipment needed, and potential for severe weather, the better prepared you will be. For indoor events, make sure you know the emergency protocols of the building, which includes knowing where all the fire extinguishers, exits and stairwells are located. For outdoor events, be sure the terrain and any light/sound rigging are properly installed. Monitor the weather in the days leading up to the event as well as during the event – storms can pop up unexpectedly with disastrous results. There are weather apps for smartphone that can alert you to severe weather watches and warnings.
Every event should have a unique emergency plan which all staff and volunteers receive and sign that they have read it. The emergency plan should include who has the authority to shut the event down or ask a vendor to vacate. Sudden storms, a shooter in the area, or a vendor with a lapsed permit are only a few examples of when someone may need to make an on-the-spot decision. The emergency plan should also include a protocol for announcing a closing or changes in the event programming. It goes without saying that all event staff and volunteers should be familiar with the event emergency plan, to include medical emergencies, lost children, crime and severe weather.
Security often is something that tends to get “overlooked” because it doesn’t generate income. However, security should be considered an investment that reduces your risk of liability, which is just as good or even better than income. Below are some security tips that can make for a much safer event for everyone involved.
- Volunteers are a great resource, but don’t use them for security enforcement purposes, such as dealing with unruly people, enforcing parking or alcohol regulations, or providing first aid. It’s best to have trained medical and law enforcement professionals handling these duties.
- Using teachers, senior/varsity athletes and other community leaders is also not a good idea when it comes to maintaining order in the crowd. These temporary-authority figures aren’t always respected by others when they’re out of their element.
- If you pay for professional security, don’t scrimp. Going with the cheapest security service may not be your wisest decision. Are their employees simply hired staff or trained personnel? Ask what types of sports events and what size crowds can they handle. Ask for examples of situations they managed to control and get references.
Sadler offers Special Event insurance and one of our insurance experts would be happy to help you determine what coverage your event needs. Call us today at (800) 622-7370 or simply request a quick special event insurance quote online now.