Big Top closure could open insurance doors

The curtain may have fallen but the employees are going to be back in business quickly

Big Top closure could open insurance doors

Insurance News

By Sam Boyer

Probably the largest circus in the United States has closed its doors and folded up its tent for the last time – but a circus insurer says this isn’t the beginning of the end for the Big Top.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus had its last show last weekend after 146 years entertaining American families. Its final show in Uniondale, NY, was a sell-out.

A year ago, the circus company caved to pressure from animal activists and ceased featuring elephants in its shows. But despite that move, ticket sales still dropped and the business was no longer profitable.

However, circus insurer Mitchel Kalmanson, at Lester Kalmanson Agency, said circuses remain a viable niche insurance industry, despite the heavyweight Big Top closure – especially for circuses with animals.

“Now is a great opportunity to take advantage if you’ve got a circus with animals, because people … want to see animals and they’re sad that the animals are gone,” he said. “How does it affect the industry? I look at it as the glass is half-full, not the glass is half-empty.

Kalmanson said he “has been on the phone with them [Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus] a lot, and I’m somewhat in the mix of what’s going on”.

While many of the circuses in the US are now Mexican, the performers from the closed circus were already in plans to open two new touring attractions, Kalmanson said.

“I’m aware of two big circuses that are going to start right up after Ringling. Some of the employees of Ringling are going to start right back – they’re building a big tent and they’re going to get back out there,” he said.

“I’m working on consulting, there’s the design of the tent, there’s going to be liability insurance, physical damage insurance, etcetera. There’s a lot of logistics to put it all together.”

Insurance products for circuses include: general liability trip/fall, physical damage for inland marine, liability for animals and performers, workers’ compensation, accident medical and commercial auto.

Kalmanson, who also owns performing big cats, said audiences wanted to see animals in shows. He believes the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus “shot themselves in the foot” when they “kowtowed” to animal activists and removed elephants from the shows.

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