Special Events Blog
Dexter Alcedo

Three tips for managing and minimizing risk for outdoor events

Dexter Alcedo of ProSight Specialty InsuranceWhile the creative aspects of event planning are certainly critical, it’s just as important to analyze risk and do whatever possible to minimize it before the event kicks off.

Sometimes the “what ifs” might seem unlikely. However, just as you probably wouldn’t have an uncovered summer event without some type of “Plan B” in place should a thunderstorm hit, heading into an event without taking the proper steps to obtain comprehensive coverage and minimize risk is dangerous.

Use the three tips below to forecast for the best possible outcome, even if something unexpected does occur:

  1. Make Sure All Your Vendors Are Covered

You can’t have a large-scale event—such as a concert, art festival or fair—without bringing in a variety of vendors, such as staging companies and security. While these vendors play an important role in keeping event attendees safe and creating the environment your audience is looking for, it’s crucial to ensure any and all vendors are individually insured and properly licensed. Many traditional live event insurance plans cover the event and your company--but not the vendors themselves. However, the event/production company can be liable if an injury, illness or illegal occurrence results--even if the problem was due to a separate vendor.

The same thing goes for vendors selling or re-selling goods. At concerts, for example, merchants are selling goods, and if those merchants aren’t insured, the event company can be held liable for any harm a product or good inflicts on its purchaser.

Before selecting the proper insurance for your event, look for a provider that offers single or multi-day coverage (depending on the length of your event, including setup and take-down) for individual vendors as part of your comprehensive plan. This will lessen the likelihood your company will be held responsible for the mistakes of a third-party seller, which are typically out of your control. 

  1. Identify Potential Pitfalls With the Venue

Sounds straightforward, right? However, the most seemingly perfect venue can present a host of potential problems. Outdoor sites in particular frequently are used for one-time or once-a-year events, but these sites are not designed for a festival with thousands of attendees. It’s essential that any potential problems with the venue are addressed prior to the event.

Before a venue agreement is signed (or as soon as possible thereafter), it’s important to document any preexisting premise conditions prior to event setup. Any problems that can be fixed should be fixed, from covering up gopher holes to addressing bathroom conditions. If a festival attendee trips over something that shouldn’t have been there to begin with and breaks an ankle, the event company could be held liable.

I also recommend asking about the venue’s existing evacuation plan before signing final agreements. Even if venue management has one that seems adequate, it’s important to think critically—or even better, to get a professional opinion—on whether the plan would realistically evacuate an event of the size and setup you’re envisioning.

  1. Account for Crowd Participation

Although drawing a crowd and getting the audience engaged is typically the goal with most events, it’s imperative to remember that the crowd itself can be a significant risk factor. Any time an audience member is brought up onstage, is asked to participate in an act, or rides a carnival ride, the company is liable for any harm that may be inflicted on that audience member.

A waiver management system should be implemented to make sure attendees are individually responsible for any harm they inflict on themselves as a result of event activity. The waiver should also take into account age restrictions for event attractions.

As the driver and planner of all things tied to your event, you have your hands on every aspect of the production. These suggestions for managing and minimizing risk are not meant to give you even more items to add to your to-do list, but rather serve as a tool to bring you and your company added peace of mind should the most unlikely “what ifs” strike.

Dexter Alcedo is a program executive at ProSight Specialty Insurance and manages underwriting for the live media, leisure, and sports niches. He earned his BS degree in Business Administration and Finance from California State University, Northridge, and has more than 20 years of experience in entertainment insurance.

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