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Festivals Toolkit: Health & Safety: Insurance

Don't wait until you are forced to review your insurance because of an accident. Festival organisers have a 'Duty of Care' to their workers, volunteers, contractors and customers and having adequate Insurance is part of your legal obligation.
  • Consider the types of insurance policies that are required, both during the planning of the festival and the actual events.

Make sure that all staff, including contractors, subcontractors, marshals, stewards and security (including private security) and self-employed staff are covered by your policy or have their own public liability cover.

Make sure that the following are covered:

  • public and employee liability
  • loss of cash/receipts
  • cancellation (e.g. artists)

What cover do you need?
Insurance is a complex area, especially for voluntary and charitable organisations. It is also an expensive item for small festivals – premiums vary from £500-£1500 dependent upon the scale of the festival/event and the associated risk - and because it is a legal requirement and essential for peace of mind you should always discuss your needs with a specialist festival/events insurance broker. Choose one that is unlikely to charge you for their services (they obtain commission from the insurance companies instead).

You should ensure that the broker through whom you agree your insurance is registered with the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which is an independent body that regulates the financial services industry in the UK.

Don't deal with insurance on an ad hoc basis. Give one person the responsibility for making sure you are adequately covered and reviewing your insurance needs each year when your policies are up for renewal.

There are a number of insurance companies which may be able to offer you appropriate cover.  Some festivals have used the services of La Playa and Events Insurance; however, you should shop around for the cover that meets your needs best. Remember that other festival and event organisers may also be able to recommend a broker/insurance company.

Types of Insurance
Here is a list of some of the areas to consider if you have adequate cover:

  • Public Liability insurance
    This covers your liability against claims from the public while attending your event in the event of an accident, injury or death; or damage to, or loss of, property caused through the negligence of someone acting with the organisation's authority, including the action of your volunteers. The premium is often dependent upon the number of people attending your event. The levels of cover can vary depending on your needs and you should discuss these with a festival/event insurance broker. This cover is usually a compulsory element of an event insurance policy.
  • Employer’s liability
    This covers you as the organiser against any claims from any staff that you might employ for the event. The premium tends to be in relation to the number of staff which you employ for the event. Employer's liability insurance covers your employees in the event of an accident, disease or injury caused or made worse as a result of work. If you work with volunteers, be aware that in some recent legal cases volunteers have been considered to be employees by industrial tribunals. So if you are in any doubt, get specialist advice either from an insurance broker or an employment lawyer. The levels of employer’s liability cover can vary depending on your needs and you should discuss these with a festival/event insurance broker.
  • Professional Indemnity insurance
    This covers those who you employ on a contract for services (typically an artist, stall holder, workshop leader or an individual or organisation from which you hire equipment e.g. PA/sound system or a marquee) for their liability against claims from the public and members of your organisation. You must insist on seeing original certificates of such PI insurance in order to satisfy yourself that the cover is adequate and current.
  • Property insurance
    This covers the property used in the event, and the premium is usually dependent upon the value of the property to be covered. The levels of cover can vary depending on your event needs and you should discuss these with a festival/event insurance broker.
  • Vehicle insurance
    If you operate your own vehicles you must make sure you have got the right insurance and that they are only used for the purpose stated in your insurance policy. Make sure you know what is excluded from your insurance, e.g. if drivers need to be of a minimum age.
  • Cancellation and Abandonment cover
    This covers your event against cancellation or abandonment, postponement, failure to vacate, adverse weather and any other eventuality beyond the control of the organiser of the event. The cover can vary depending on your needs and you should discuss these with a festival/event insurance broker.
  • Special Event insurance
    Special events such as firework displays or performances involving special effects, machinery or equipment are likely to demand additional insurance. Check with your broker.
  • Fireworks
    Many festivals/events incorporate fireworks as part of their programmes which can provide a memorable climax but the safety requirements are substantial and will no doubt require a specific insurance premium. As well as discussing your plans with a festival/event insurance broker you will also need to discuss your plans with the local emergency services (e.g. fire and police) and you should also ensure that anyone you are employing for this is registered with one of the offical organisations such as:  British Pyrotechnists Association, whose membership is restricted to professional firework and pyrotechnic display companies who meet certain membership criteria.

Working with contractors/ suppliers
When you use contractors, or invite other organisations to take part in your events, make sure they have the necessary insurance (Public Indemnity) for their activities and insist on seeing original certificates not just a photocopy. This will safeguard you, your employees, volunteers and the public.

Other relevant insurance might include:

  • Third party insurance
  • Contents
  • Loss of documents and data
  • Loss of fees
  • Legal expenses
  • Cash
  • Theft; fire and flood

Make sure you read and understand the exclusions, i.e. circumstances which are excluded from cover (the small print). Make sure too that you disclose all facts when you take out your policy, and any changes in circumstances when you renew it. (If material is not disclosed or the application form is inaccurate, the insurance company may refuse payment of a claim.) Record all information and keep two copies of the policy. Keep one away from the premises.

Further reading:
Information sheets are available from the Arts Council England and National Council for Voluntary Organisations on the subject of insurance.

For more general information the following organisations may be of help:

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