Summer is almost upon us, and in 21st
century Britain, that means one thing – festival season is here. One man who knows more than most how the nation’s love of coming together in muddy fields, clad in wellies and ponchos to listen to bands playing on a stage somewhere in the distance can be turned into a profitable insurance product is Dan Rose, a director of Hampshire-based Event Insurance services, which unsurprisingly, specialises in insuring events.
Celebrating its 20th
birthday this year, the Ringwood firm – an agent of UK General
- began selling cancellation cover to wedding venues and has gone through significant evolution over the years. It has developed a specific festival insurance product to capitalise on the huge growth in the number of musical gatherings which has taken place in recent years, but will cover pretty much any kind of event, indoor and outdoor, from village fetes to major business exhibitions.
“It’s just spiralled,” says Rose. “Wedding insurance took off and it moved into the event world, and here we are today probably one of the biggest players in event insurance. Festivals were about music but it’s not just music festivals now – we recently insured a barbecue festival, a llama festival, flower festivals, loads of weird stuff! There’s absolutely loads of them, and it’s good fun.
“We’ve insured festivals almost from day one, we’ve always had a one-off event policy but a couple of years ago we branded it as a festival policy and, made it a bit more specific added in extra cover and made it available online, so it’s a lot more straightforward to purchase.”
The festival product is just part of the 16,000 policies EIS writes, for a GWP of something in the region of £3m – and that’s growing at a decent rate. More than 3,000 of the 16,000 are annual, multi-event policies which means the total number of events covered is huge. “When you multiply that 3,000 by the number of events those policies will cover, there’s thousands,” says Rose.
“We offer policies for DJs and stall holders – maybe an old lady is selling jam at the village fete and she’s been asked to get public liability insurance; coffee mornings, little charity walks – just a collection of people getting together to go for a walk, musicians attending weddings, that kind of thing. The larger scale stuff, we’ll cover music festivals with 50-60,000 people attending, massive agricultural shows, and the conference and exhibition world is massive.”
Those larger events include Mutiny and Heavy music festivals, Goodwood Festival of Speed, and even the Notting Hill Carnival. Traders and exhibitors at those events need cover, and EIS can provide it. It might seem an obvious opportunity, but Rose believes brokers are missing an opportunity.
He said: “A lot of brokers don’t really understand event insurance, let alone more specific markets within events insurance. The market is there but brokers don’t really know too much about it. People don’t generally think you need to get insurance for a pub quiz but often it’s driven by either the local council, the venue, or people just becoming a bit more aware of their legal responsibilities and decide to take out some cover.”
Typical policies will cover public liability, employer’s liability – “whether that’s staff, volunteers, helpers, paid or unpaid,” says Rose, equipment and cancellation cover, with an add-on to take care of adverse weather.
“2012 was one of the worst weather years and pretty much all event insurers that I’m aware of had a pretty tough time from the claims side,” says Rose. “But that was good because we were able to react and help out the organisers wherever we could. You need these heavy claim years because then people are more aware of it, and we can show that we genuinely do help out when there’s a problem.”
“The general claims we see from music festivals are slips and trips,” added Rose. “If the weather is horrendous, the ground gets boggy, people are slipping over things and twisting their ankles. A really common claim is people going down the steps of portable loos, they maybe haven’t been cleaned properly, they slip and injure themselves and they’re off work for a few weeks. Other than that, marquees getting caught in the wind and damaging cars and injuring people, they’re the common things.”
As a specialist insurer, EIS has the in-house expertise to help brokers help their clients. It also helps that Rose, who has been with the company for nine years, has long been a festival-goer himself. “I’ve been to a few festivals,” he says. “I’ve been to Bestival - I’ve got a small family so we go to some of the more family-friendly ones now. I guess we have the benefit as a specialist event insurer of having a broader picture of what does go wrong because we transact so much. It’s nice as someone who has actually gone to festivals now being in a position to help them out and insure them.”