UK prepares for glorious summer of sport and music – but insurance requirements are ever more complex



27 May 2022

Risk assessment advice even more crucial now when seeking cancellation cover

The last two years have been the most challenging on record for organisers of sport and entertainment events, as well as for those who insure them, and it is important to recognise the experience has changed, potentially forever, the environment for cancellation and contingency cover.

Covid-19 hit the events industry particularly hard, not least the risk of government-enforced lockdown leading to event abandonment, cancellation, or postponement.

Add in the financial impact of reduced capacities, Covid mitigation measures and extra red tape around Covid passports, and there has been a serious threat to business continuity for organisers.

As live events return and we look forward to a summer of sport, music, and festivals with no restrictions in place, it may feel like the world is returning to normal.

But the reality is that securing adequate cancellation cover now requires more complex preparation than ever before, as insurance companies insist on evidence of robust risk assessments, health and safety procedure and accurate incident reporting

Consult your broker on what’s required

This is where the advice and consultation of a Howden broker experienced in the sports and entertainment industry becomes so important.

Due diligence around risk management, control and mitigation must be watertight to access the best insurance cover, so being able to talk to an expert is crucial.

Andy Goulbourne, Head of Client Service at Howden Sport & Entertainment said: “Our advice to event organisers is not to just skim the surface when it comes to risk management and not to presume that what you did in previous years is suitable for a new reality. A lot has changed.

“Insurance companies will want to see policies and procedures in place which reflect the current climate in relation to Covid-19, the war in Ukraine, Brexit and a continued terrorist threat to events.”

The impact of terrorism and high-profile security breaches on insurance cover

The reality in the industry is that many insurance companies will no longer provide cover for Covid-related cancellation at all, and a government scheme which only touches the surface is likely to end in September.

It is not only Covid which has set the new agenda. Terrorism and security have played a significant role, too.

Euro 2020 final hooligans

There were significant issues at the Euro 2020 football final at Wembley between England and Italy in July 2021, when around 2,000 people without tickets managed to storm the arena and forcefully gain access.

Ticketless ‘fans’ caused unprecedented levels of criminal damage, and their extreme antisocial behaviour left legitimate supporters terrified.

An independent review concluded that the stewarding was not robust enough and whilst no one agency was solely responsible, all agencies including UEFA, the FA, and the Metropolitan Police ‘failed to see the foreseeable risk’.

Ensuring there are adequate numbers of stewards and security staff is part of the due diligence we undertake with you in the planning stages before your event.

Due diligence required

James Davies, Divisional Director Howden Sport & Entertainment said: “Due diligence and planning is vital to secure the best cover, and it is also worth considering that your current insurance cover may no longer be fit for purpose. Don’t assume you can just renew, and everything will be the same, because the reality is different. Insurers will certainly want evidence of more robust risk assessments than ever before.”

Other factors add to the pressure on event organisers in 2022.

Brexit has created extra threats in relation to the supply chain, whilst also making it more complicated for musicians and their entourage to tour Europe without a visa.

A cost-of-living crisis in the UK could limit the spending power of consumers, and although ticket sales remain strong this summer the future is less certain.

Then, there is the continuing impact of global warming, creating an increase in weather-related events such as flooding in the UK, and earthquakes, hurricanes or wildfires further afield.

A perfect storm

Louise Clark, Risk Manager at Howden Sport & Entertainment added: “There's a perfect storm right now in events insurance in the UK. There’s Covid, there’s fears about the Queen reaching the end of her life, there’s the impact of Brexit on supply chains. Then there’s the constant threat of terrorism following the Ariana Grande incident in Manchester in 2017.

“In response to that incident, the UK government expects all venues to have a heightened level of terrorism awareness and security. It’s a nerve-wracking time for event organisers.

“It is very important therefore to address risk management to ensure you get the best possible price and cover for cancellation.

“There is a lot of risk management advice that Howden can provide, and we are ready to help clients new and old.”