Non-profit organizations use special events as a key source of fundraising for their organizations. These fundraisers run the gamut from traditional events like dinners, auctions, fun-runs and golf tournaments, to more adventurous and creative ideas, often involving extreme physical feats, which non-profits are hosting in order to draw in a new wave of participants and donors.
From an insurance perspective, special events are often considered as unique operations and exposures for non-profit organizations, according to Maureen Dyson (pictured), area executive vice president of Charity First Insurance Services, Inc. a program manager for non-profit and social service organizations. As such, there may not be automatic coverage for these activities in their general liability insurance policies, or there may be an additional premium charge, she added.
“There are many carriers that offer coverage for events as stand-alone coverage or as part of a liability package, but those non-profits that wait until the last minute to verify or obtain insurance for their events may find their options limited,” Dyson told Insurance Business. To address this, Charity First created a coverage endorsement that provides automatic premium and coverage inclusion for many of the most common types of events and fundraisers. Non-profits with more uncommon exposures may still have to purchase extra coverage.
Certain exposures associated with special events can be more challenging to insure than others. An example Dyson gave of a tricky exposure - which is very popular for special events aimed towards children - is inflatable structures. In recent years, inflatable structures have become much more elaborate, with multi-story levels, slides, climbing walls and obstacle courses – all of which contribute to a high frequency of accidents and injuries.
“Injuries to guests, property damage caused by attendees, volunteers or employees and the potential for damages or injuries caused by intoxicated patrons continue to be some of the primary exposures faced at special events,” Dyson commented. “We’ve seen a number of claims relating to trips and falls due to the temporary nature of special event venues. For example, an empty lot may be used as a makeshift parking lot. We’ve had situations where items removed to clear space in such a lot have left holes for patrons to trip over. Also, electrical cords that are laid across paths to create temporary lighting or other sources of power can be a hazard.”
Many special events include the serving of alcohol. In these instances, there are several considerations that should be made, according to Dyson. She said: “A non-profit should check to see if a license is required and whether or not their current insurance covers this kind of exposure. Training for any employee or volunteer that is serving alcohol is critical and the organization should have a formalized plan for how to handle guests that appear to be intoxicated or over-served.”