When rain stops play...

Bad weather could ruin your summer event. standy standy standy standy standy standy standy standy
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The Independent Online
What was intended as a merry gathering can sometimes turn into a nightmare as a result of wind and weather or some unforeseen calamity, such as an accident or injury to a member of the public, who these days will tend to sue. Anyone organising outdoor events this summer would certainly be well advised to obtain suitable insurance backing to protect against the unexpected.

The growing tendency for people to pursue compensation through the courts at the slightest opportunity presents particular cause for alarm. Organisers of events as humble as jumble sales or street parties could become legally liable for vast sums if members of the public suffer injury or damage to their property while attending.

Amateur catering has been known to result in mass food poisoning claims. Collapsing marquees and falls at donkey derbies have also thrown up their fair share of casualties.

Cornhill Insurance reports several sizeable claims from bizarre occurrences at charity events. One came from a woman wearing high heels who broke her ankle in an uncovered cattle grid. Another resulted from a bouncy castle blowing into a valuable collection of antique motorcycles.

Cornhill's Special Events Public Liability policy is the market leader for those seeking liability cover only. The minimum premium of pounds 71.75 will secure pounds 1 million of cover for up to two days. The policy covers damage to hired premises and liability arising from food, drink and other goods sold or supplied.

Cornhill now faces stiff competition from Special Event Insurance Services, whose Outdoor Events Insurance became available in January. The minimum premium of pounds 50 will provide pounds lm of cover for up to four days for events attended by fewer than 1,000 people.

Crippling losses can also result from having to abandon an event. The weather has proved an age old adversary in this respect, the wettest months of the summer normally being July and August.

Eagle Star is the major insurer for weather-related risks. Its Pluvius policies, which can be arranged for as little as pounds 102.50, come in three different formats.

Agreed value policies pay out when an agreed measurement of rain is reached or exceeded during a specified period. Abandonment policies reimburse expenses when events do not take place because of adverse weather. Most professional cricketers still rely on a benefit season to set them up for retirement and cricket policies cover matches against the possibility of a match being delayed or abandoned. In all cases, two weeks' notice must be given for cover required during the summer period.

Insurex Expo-Sure's Adverse Weather Protection, also launched in January, represents an interesting alternative. It can provide extra funds for emergency measures if they will keep the event open (Pluvius only pays out after the event). Premiums cost pounds 3.50 per pounds 100 of cover.

Policies offering cover for cancellation caused by factors other than the weather tend to be riddled with exclusions and great attention should be paid to the small print. With this in mind Insurex Expo-Sure has just launched a new policy priced in five bands, starting from pounds 100 for pounds 10,000 worth of cover to pounds 425 for pounds 50,000 of protection for lost expenses and profits due to cancellation, plus a further pounds 10,000 cover for equipment and the venue and pounds 1m of legal liability protection.

Special Event Insurance Services' Outdoor Events Insurance, for example, offers a cancellation facility in addition to liability cover. This option provides pounds 4,000 of cover for its minimum premium of pounds 75 but 11 exclusion clauses rule out many of the most common causes of cancellation such as inadequate attendance, lack of support by any party or lack of finance.

One clause which excludes failure to "make all necessary arrangements for the successful fulfilment of the event(s) in a reasonable and timely manner" appears to have ominously broad implications.

A number of packages combine public liability and cancellation insurance with other areas of cover relevant to the outdoor event organiser.

Lombard General's Eventualities offers all risks cover for property brought into an event as well as prize indemnity cover for those wishing to stage roll-a-dice or hole-in-one competitions. Components can be mixed and matched according to requirements - providing the cancellation section is purchased. The minimum premium is pounds 76.88. Other similar packages are available through independent Insurance and Insurex Expo-Sure.

Those organising outdoor weddings are likely to be better off under a specialist policy. Cornhill, Ecclesiastical and Special Event Insurance Services are the market leaders. Their policies safeguard against virtually everything except cold feet on the part of the bride or groom.

Policyholders can choose from a range of options. Special Event Insurance Services' Wedding Insurance, for example, offers three levels of cover costing pounds 60.99, pounds 76.86 and pounds 99,94. These provide cancellation benefit of up to pounds 2,500, pounds 3,500 and pounds 5,000 respectively.

All levels offer public liability of up to pounds lm and (up to pounds 1,000 each) cover for wedding attire, presents, rings, failures of photographs and suppliers going into liquidation.

Cornhill's "Weddingsurance" and Ecclesiastical's Wedding Insurance provide pounds 2,500 of cancellation benefits and similar additional covers for minimum premiums of pounds 46.12 and pounds 35.88 respectively. Both enable cover under main sections of the policy to be increased for an additional premium.

Hole-in-one insurance is also well serviced by specialist policies. The National Hole In One Association (NHIOA) has captured the bulk of the market worldwide. Around three-quarters of its business comes from individuals organising charity, corporate or pro-am golf days. Its minimum premium is pounds 149.

A premium of pounds 200-pounds 300 should indemnify organisers of a small tournament against offering prizes as valuable as a pounds 10,000 car to those who achieve a hole-in-one at a specified hole. It will also secure free golf bags to those who make holes-in-one at one of a further three par three holes.

Organisers may find, however, that major prize winners end up with something of a dilemma. R&A regulations require those who accept prizes with a retail value in excess of pounds 200 temporarily to forfeit their amateur status! Donating the prize directly to a registered charity can provide a way around the problem.

Special Event 01425 470360.

Cornhill 01483 568161.

Eagle Star 01242 221311.

Insurex Expo-Sure 01892 511500.

Lombard General 01732 362 345.

Independent insurance via local broker

Ecclesiastical 0800 336622.

NHIOA 0800 833863.

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