By Jack Buttine with Buttine Insurance

Show organizers have plenty to ‘keep them awake at night’.  However, a well-planned show insurance program will promote “a good night’s sleep”.

Organizers have specially designed property, general liability and event cancellation insurance policies that protect their – or their investors’, financial interests.

Events face natural or climate risks such as hurricanes and earthquake as well as man- made risks such as terrorism, theft and food poisoning.  These can all wipe out profits and future earnings as well as damage an event’s reputation.

How you address these risks is critical to your success.

Two risk management tools are your insurance policies and the Certificates of Insurance you get from partners such as general service contractors, food and beverage providers and your exhibitors.

1.  The insurance policies organizers normally carry are  …

  • “all risk” Property coverages for your computers and rented equipment such as large screen monitors, laptops, golf carts, and trailers
  • Commercial general liability (CGL) insurance which protects against claims arising from theft of property – in overnight storage rooms for example, or slips and falls on or around the show floor and during show parties or outings.
  • Auto Liability insurance provides insurance against claims arising from accidents while using rented or personally owned vehicles.
  • Umbrella Liability which supplements the limits of liability provided by Commercial General Liability and Auto Liability policies.  Umbrella policies are often needed to meet limit requirements of venue contracts. While there is no standard for “how much is enough”, $5,000,000 is the most common umbrella limit.
  • Workers Compensation insurance is required by all states and by many venue owners.  While most organizers carry this insurance, some newly formed companies may not since their workers may be independent contractors.  Regardless of whether your staff is composed of independent contractors or full-time employees, organizers should always have this coverage. The threat of being an “uninsured employer” negates any short term cost saving.
  • Event Cancellation insurance protects your financial investment.  This policy allows the organizer to keep its anticipated profit, return fees for exhibiting or attending and pay all incurred expenses and sponsorship fees despite a loss arising from nearly anything that disrupts the event.  There are limitations and exclusions for terrorism and communicable disease which can be removed for an extra charge. However, the things that most frequently cancel events – adverse weather and facility related problems such as power outage and fires, are covered.
  • Exhibitor Liability insurance provides exhibitors with nearly the same liability insurance as organizers carry.  It is becoming more common for organizers to require proof of exhibitors’ insurance.  By preventing a claim caused by an uninsured exhibitor from driving up the cost of the show’s insurance, Exhibitor Liability benefits the organizer. This insurance protects exhibitors who do not buy insurance or who are foreign and either do not buy insurance or have foreign insurance that will not pay a claim in a US court. It is a “win-win” insurance program
  • Weather Insurance protects outdoor events such as concerts, weddings, farm show demonstrations from loss due to rain.

2.    Certificates of Insurance

Most organizers get Certificates of Insurance from show general service contractors and Exhibitor Appointed Contractors (EACs).  Certificates which name the organizer as an Additional Insured protect the organizer against claims caused by others.  More organizers are requesting proof of exhibitors’ insurance.  This is an excellent addition to the show’s protection.

NOTE: many entities want to have Additional Insured status on your liability policies.  Remember … to become an Additional Insured there must be a contract between the show and the entity who requires indemnification that requires Additional Insured status on your Commercial General Liability policy.

This article is not all-encompassing but it gives the high points based on 30+ years’ experience.  A well-planned insurance program coupled with good use of Certificates of Insurance will give organizers the sleep they need to produce first-class events and to protect their assets and reputations.

For additional information contact Jack M Buttine @ or Mary Beth Ryan @; 800-964-4454.

Posted by Elizabeth McQuade

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