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Special event insurance 101

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on March 30th, 2021

COVID-19 is an unwanted guest that has postponed many weddings and other events over the past year and into 2021.

Many couples, after being forced to cancel their nuptials due to the pandemic, may now be looking at a backyard wedding, for example, because of health restrictions governing the number of people that can gather for an event – both inside and out.

There are different types of policies that apply to events such as weddings.

Host liability coverage is designed to exclusively protect the insured if something goes wrong at an event they are organizing and it’s for liability purposes only. This could be a wedding, a retirement party, graduation, or birthday party. It doesn’t cover goods or items provided for the event.

The coverage is sometimes required by a venue for someone to book their event. It can also be added for events that occur at the insured’s home or outside venues.

Prices range from a few hundred dollars or higher, depending on the event. An example of where this coverage would be helpful would be if a guest breaks a leg while attending the event or accidentally causes damage to the venue and now the organizer is on the hook for the repairs.

This type of coverage must often be referred to the carrier for approval. Some of the questions a person seeking this type of insurance might have to answer include:

  • Type and date of event
  • Name of venue and address
  • Whose name will be on the rental agreement
  • Event start and end time
  • Number of expected guests
  • Will there be children in attendance
  • Whether alcohol is being served, the number of bartenders, and if they’re Smart Service certified (in Ontario)
  • If alcohol is being served, how guests will get home

It’s a good idea to speak with your broker so you know what’s in the fine print. They will help you navigate the process. Many halls and venues have their own insurance, but still require a person to have host liability insurance to be able to book the event at that location. Be sure to ask what is covered by the venue’s policy.

Event cancellation insurance is a different type of coverage. It’s a policy that helps protect your investment in a specific event, such as a wedding. It may help cover costs if you unexpectedly need to cancel the occasion. This type of insurance is usually offered by a company that specializes in this type of coverage.

Now that we’ve examined the two types of coverage, here are some tips if you must cancel or reschedule a wedding or other special event:

  1. Know what your event policy covers. If you purchased event insurance find out whether the current circumstances are covered. Some policies cover COVID-19 cancellations, but others may not. Understand what kind of financial relief you can expect. This may impact whether you want to reschedule or adjust your existing plan.
  2. Review your vendor contracts. Know the terms for cancellation. For example, is there a postponement fee - and can you expect any deposits back. If you must cancel, contact all the vendors as quickly as possible. If you plan to reschedule, speak with them about availability and if they must redo work for the new date.
  3. Request refundable deposits. Some deposits are not refundable and should be stipulated in the contract as such. Given the setbacks associated with the pandemic, some vendors may not be able to refund a deposit. If you are rescheduling, ask if they will consider the deposit a credit toward the future event.
  4. Find a new date. Talk with your most important suppliers to coordinate dates that could work for all the important players. You may have to move your date further ahead or consider another day of the week.
  5. Update your guests. Send a physical or digital update to your guests if you have already sent invitations. If you have printed but haven’t sent them yet, talk with your vendor to see if they can create an insert that can be tucked into the original one.
  6. File your insurance claim. If you have an event cancellation policy that covers the pandemic, file your claim. You will need to include a list of non-refundable deposits and other non-reimbursable expenses to detail the financial impact.

Covid-19 restrictions make planning any event tricky. You may want to hold off until a later date or completely scale it down based on public health guidelines. Whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to know that your special day is protected.

RELATED READING: Covid-19: Tribunal rules on cancelled wedding contract

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