Legal Cover

If you are organising or sharing responsibility for a special event or festival, it is important to make sure you have adequate legal protection insurance. Here, we examine the reasons why.

Indoor and outdoor events might include local or regional festivals, fairs, annual customs or local celebrations, as well as special opening promotions. If plays or films are performed or there is live or recorded music or dancing, licensing may be required to avoid problems with copyright issues. This can be checked with the local authority and the Performing Rights Society.

If you are organising a public event, you will need to have public liability insurance. Guidance from gov.uk suggests that the laws that require this type of insurance do not apply to voluntary groups or local community organisations. However, it is best to be covered - something may go wrong, personal injuries may be sustained and then you or your organisation could well become the subject of a compensation, damages or other legal claim against you. In other words, it is prudent to have good liability cover in case an accident or other mishap occurs.

The amount that is required to be insured can vary from £1 million in the case of smaller, local events up to £10 million for large festivals with bigger crowds of attendees or thousands of visitors. The physical size of the event should be taken into consideration, as well as its nature. Local councils or landowners of property on which the event is held may also require proof of public liability insurance.

Conversely, if you intend to employ staff at the event, employer liability insurance is required by law. The insurance policy must be sufficient to cover the type of event. If your event will be using the services of external contractors, their insurance cover must be checked too. Additionally, the health and safety policy statements of any contractor must be in order - the law states that contractors must have such documentation including risk assessments and systems of work or method statements, if they employ more than five people.

It is a good idea to keep a written record of risk management procedures and any evaluations carried out for your event, in case the insurers require it. In assessing risk, we need to consider what might go wrong and – if it were to go wrong - how it could be rectified. Some risks can be controlled to minimise any possible adverse effects, whereas others definitely need to be insured. If insuring against cancellation or curtailment due to bad weather, it is best to insure after booking the venue. Delaying cover will not reduce the premium and may complicate cover (if a storm is forecast during the event, for example). Insuring earlier means that the cover is in force for longer, usually for the same premium.

When taking out the insurance, it is important to mention all the envisaged activities. On receiving the insurance documents, check the policy terms in detail to make sure there are no errors and that the cover is adequate. Are there any specific requirements which must be complied with? Note any exclusions carefully, too.

Finally, catering suppliers, amusements or rides (including bouncy castles etc.) should have their own insurance.