Mobile World Congress cancelled – will exhibition insurance provide relief?

Decision made as the likes of Amazon and Facebook back away

Mobile World Congress cancelled – will exhibition insurance provide relief?

Insurance News

By Terry Gangcuangco

This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Spain is now officially a no-go, after the likes of Amazon, Facebook, and Nokia pulled out of the major trade show due to COVID-19.

“The GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern, and other circumstances make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” said GSMA Limited chief executive John Hoffman in a statement.

MWC Barcelona 2020 was supposed to take place from February 24 to 27, with the GSMA previously maintaining that the annual gathering would not be axed. The question now is whether the cancellation will mean compensation for the firms, many of which had decided not to participate even if the event pushed through.

Looking at the GSMA’s standard terms and conditions for exhibition, advertising, and sponsorship, it is clear the association – which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide – won’t be paying out.

The terms document seen by Insurance Business reads: “The organizer shall not be liable to the company for any losses, costs, damages, or expenses (whether incurred under contract, tort, or otherwise) suffered or incurred as a direct or indirect result of an event beyond the control of the organizer, including without limitation, any act of God, disease or epidemic, strike, lock-out, industrial disturbance, failure of suppliers, act of public enemy, war, labour dispute, terrorist act, blockade, riot, civil commotion, public demonstration, or governmental or local authority restraint nor shall the organizer be liable to refund any fees.”

In fact, one of the 16 policy exclusions of the exhibition insurance for MWC Barcelona 2020 relates to communicable diseases.    

Listed among the exclusions is “any loss, damage, cost, or expense of whatsoever nature directly or indirectly caused by, arising out of, contributed to by, resulting from or in connection with any communicable disease which leads to: i) the imposition of quarantine or restriction in movement of people or animals by any national or international body or agency and/or ii) any travel advisory or warning being issued by a national or international body or agency; and in respect of i) or ii) any fear or threat thereof (whether actual or perceived).”

Meanwhile GSMA director general Mats Granryd stressed it’s a force majeure situation.

“We don’t comment on insurance policies but clearly there is no way you can insure yourself out of a force majeure situation,” Reuters quoted Granryd as saying during a news conference in Spain.

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