Cover or undercover?
Fri 20 Jul 2012
It may be a bumper year for cultural and sporting events across the UK but an unwelcome intruder has been grabbing most of this summer’s headlines – the wet weather.
Celebrations of the UK’s 2012 cultural bonanza have so far be overshadowed by one of the most disappointing summers in recent memory and already put several events at risk of disruption or cancellation.
According to the Met Office, Britain experienced double the average amount of rainfall last month, making it the wettest June since records began in 1910. The period from April to June was also the wettest ever recorded.
Whether it’s street theatre, beachside poetry ‘peace camps’ or a touring inflatable replica of Stonehenge (yes, these are all real events) their need for insurance remains the same – with cover falling into three main categories of cancellation, employers and public liability, and property damage. And with unhappy festival-goers with nowhere to go and soggy spectators with no sport in sight, the cost of ticket refunds can hit businesses hard.
Elizabeth Seeger, contingency underwriter at Hiscox, which has a major event underwriting practice, says they have received plenty of enquiries about weather in recent weeks. “For some events, the weather is absolutely critical,” she said. “You only have to open a newspaper to see how many events are being cancelled. Some will not be affected – the pageant on the River Thames for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee went ahead in torrential rain – but you wouldn’t build the poetry peace camps on remote beaches in conditions like that.”
When it comes to providing cover for an event, the key questions asked by insurers are how experienced an event’s organisers are and whether it is being held indoors or outdoors.
Many exhibitions will be held in the open air this summer, presenting a whole new challenge for fine art underwriters. “We look at outdoor art on an individual basis,” says Yannick Daucourt, regional manager for Europe and Asia-Pacific for the fine art and specie business at XL Group. “No two outdoor risks are the same.”
He added that while insuring a Da Vinci masterpiece in a gallery or private collection is relatively straightforward, works like the ‘Bus-Tops project’ - where LED screens on top of 30 London bus shelters show videos created by members of the public - can be more challenging. “Something like that has a double complexity because it is outside and it is electronic. My other worry would be that people would steal it or damage it,” says Daucourt.
And what of the biggest sporting event of all which kicks off in London in under two weeks’ time? The Met Office is predicting that the south of the UK may see “some brighter, warmer weather” in time for the opening ceremony.