Super Bowl LVIII: What it takes to insure the big game

Veteran event insurance professional dishes the details

Super Bowl LVIII: What it takes to insure the big game

Insurance News

By David Saric

Insuring an event like Super Bowl LVIII is no small feat, and, according to Martin Ridgers, owner of MKR Specialty Insurance Brokerage, insurance preparation for the apex of the football season begins two years in advance.

“In many ways, with these big events, it’s almost like setting up a small city for the period of time that the event is going on,” Ridgers said. “How long it takes to properly find and identify all the probable risks and find the right coverage is based on who is involved with this project, what experience they have insuring a big event and what are the complications they might have to work with.”

With the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs gearing up for a February showdown in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ridgers joined Insurance Business to share how insurance stakeholders will also have been ramping up for the big game.

Super Bowl insurance – sourcing cover can pose a challenge for big events

Sourcing the right cover to safeguard a highly attended event like the Super Bowl can pose a challenge. As Ridgers noted, “there’s not a lot of insurance companies that will do this type of business.”

When arranging cover for a big event like the Super Bowl, a broker must be mindful of the different expectations and requests by various stakeholders involved in putting together the spectacle.

“You have the game itself that needs coverage, but also the NFL may want coverage for different reasons,” Ridgers said. “Then, you have to worry about whether the teams need that coverage put together; however, as you start coming down through the race, the insurance capacity within the marketplace can start to run out, especially for cancelation non-appearance insurance.

“A lot of times the vendors wait until the last minute and then they end up paying more for something that they could have purchased earlier [and] maintained and had coverage for a longer period of time.”

Most of the time, cancelation non-appearance insurance can be written two years before the actual Super Bowl takes place.

Security key when it comes to Super Bowl and large event insurance

On February 11, tens of thousands of fans are set to head to the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, with tens of millions more tuning in to watch the big game.

At past Super Bowls, more than 100,000 fans have piled into stadiums, with the long-standing record of 103,903 set in January 1980 at Super Bowl XIV, hosted at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Given the massive turnout, security is one of the biggest concerns for a large, open area event like the Super Bowl, and the anticipated attendance of many celebrities and high-profile individuals adds to the challenge.

Last year, attendees reportedly included Paul Rudd, LeBron James, and Jay-Z, while speculation has ramped up this year as to whether a touring Taylor Swift will make the big game.

Big sporting and entertainment event organizers may play their cards close to their chest when it comes to security measures, but understanding security from a risk prevention and mitigation standpoint is paramount when arranging cover.

Clients may be “more secretive with information because they don’t want certain security details to be leaked ahead of time,” Ridgers said.

Nevertheless, brokers “have to be crossing every T and dotting every I,” according to Ridgers, with underwriters having strict requirements on updated safety manuals having been put in place, along with regular security meetings in the run up to the big day.

Insuring the Super Bowl – following the weather

Weather insurance is also top of mind, with special considerations in play depending on the geographic location of the event.

With the Super Bowl moving from state to state every year, weather risks and expectations can be markedly different.

Super Bowl XLVIII, which was held in New York, “was the first to be played outdoors in a cold-weather city and there had to be a lot of money budgeted in case of a potential snowstorm,” Ridgers said.

“This meant a whole staff of people and shelter had to be put together to be able to clear snow from the stadium in the surrounding area, especially since they couldn’t have snowplows do the work on the field, but [they needed] the manual hand and shovel method.”

A light up Super Bowl half-time show poses tech challenges

With the Super Bowl also playing host to a star-studded roster of showbiz entertainment, it’s not just the game that has to be kept on top of from a risk management perspective.

Insuring and providing a risk assessment for the half-time show requires a different skillset, as the Super Bowl itself is a separate party.

This year, Grammy award-winning R&B singer Usher is set to take center stage, with other stars to have headlined including Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Prince.

“Power techniques can be an issue, especially if pyrotechnics are involved. You can bring the power technicians in, but mistakes can still happen,” Ridgers said.

Newer technologies have made such special effects safer, with flashpots able to mimic the look and feel of traditional pyrotechnics with less of the risk.

When safety and security considerations are taken care of, “the markets that specialize in these events will work with the insured and brokers very easily if they just are transparent with underwriters,” Ridgers said.

Insuring the Super Bowl: Extensive experience needed

Having been born into a family of insurance professionals, Ridgers knew from a young age that he would take up the family mantle and join the industry as well.

He eventually ended up working at a UK-based company called Robertson Taylor Insurance Brokers, where he was able to help place coverage for touring groups, filming and other entertainment-focused areas.

“When I was most comfortable to work on high profile events was probably 10 to 12 years into my career,” Ridgers revealed.

Insuring a Super Bowl, inauguration, or a large music festival does not follow a particular formula, which means that the right insurance professional needs to be able to work with various moving parts and disparate demands.

“You need to have experience working with the different vendors, understand what the contracts are going to say and then create a policy that should be able to deal with that,” Ridgers said. “You must be able to deal with the challenges and constraints of the insurance market at that time and be able to find the appropriate coverage accordingly.”

Got a view on insuring the Super Bowl? Who will you be rooting for at Super Bowl LVIII? Leave a comment below.

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