Many independent event organizers did not foresee the outbreak of Covid-19 when they entered into contractual obligations related to plans set for the year 2020.
Startup and independent organizers and planners are now learning the lessons of why insurance coverage, and making a thorough examination of the terms included in contracts, are critical to the events planning business.
Although the safety of attendees has always been a main concern in event planning and organizing, professional organizers and planners also make sure they are protected from liabilities borne by an unforeseeable event like the Covid-19 epidemic.
Today, the pandemic has turned into a national crisis for many countries, prompting governments to bar foreign visitors from coming in, by suspending international travels whether by land, air or sea. Major annual and seasonal events have been canceled, while among the measures taken to slow down the spread of the disease, include bans on gatherings of more than 10 people. Social distancing must be maintained; every person in attendance must be set six meters apart.
Needless to say, cancelled events result in losses for all parties concerned. Nonetheless, losses can be limited through the terms and specific clauses stated in contracts, particularly in insurance policies.
How Insurance Policies Protect Event Organizers
The most common policy taken by event organizers as protection from potential losses is the General Liability Insurance. The protection afforded though this policy is against claims of injuries filed either by a guest or a worker; or property damages sought by venue owners, which include the host of the event.
When looking to protect one’s performance in fulfilling obligations, or for making claims to recover non refundable deposits made to caterers, florists, deejays and other similar services, a professional liability insurance poses as a better tool.
In any type of insurance coverage taken, the term “force majeure” can have an impact on the enforceability of one’s claim for protection against event cancellations.
What is Force Majeure?
“Force majeure” is a term often referred to as an “act of God,” which are uncontrollable circumstances or conditions like natural calamities. Their occurrences could prevent organizers from fulfilling the obligations enumerated in an event contract. However, the term “force majeure” is not all encompassing, because some opine that uncontrollable events like outbreaks of war and epidemics are not acts of God but of humans.
Now if the policy does not specifically state that “force majeure’ includes outbreaks of war or epidemic, claims for insurance protection or for reimbursements, could become a matter of contention between the insurance provider and the event organizer.
In this age of advanced technologies, “force majeure” events or circumstances could be predicted, not through interpretations of Zodiac Signs, but through scientific analysis of past and present data. Planners and organizers therefore, must take such predictions into account when contracting not only with insurance providers but with customers and event partners as well.
This comes with the expectation that premiums paid for such insurance coverage will be higher.
Inclusion of “Force Majeure” in Event Planning Contracts
Including the “force majeure” condition in the business contract can also protect event organizers against non-performance claims. That is notwithstanding that the matter of including uncontrollable events resulting from acts of humans like war and epidemics, depends on what has been agreed to by the event organizers and their client.
The cost of paying higher premiums for insurance policies that include war or epidemic as “force majeure” may be factored in when negotiating an agreement.