Event organisers 'reassessing insurance options because of ash cloud'

26th May 2010


The consequences of the ash

cloud have greatly changed how organisers are thinking about events, according

to Mark Blair, divisional director at events

insurance provider Towergate Coverex.

A couple of months ago, few people would have

considered how an erupting volcano could grind Europe

to a halt. Yet, as the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull spewed ash into the air

leaving the continent a no-fly zone, many event organisers were left assessing

the fate of planned conferences and festivals. Some, such as Showtime Music which had hoped to stage a music festival in Shrewsbury, had no choice

but to cancel out of the fear that people would not be able to get to the


The effects of the volcanic ash will have a

long-lasting impact on the events industry, according to Mark Blair, who works

as a divisional

director at events insurance provider Towergate Coverex.

"I think the biggest thing that happened with the

volcanic ash was that if you asked an organiser to list anything that could

possibly go wrong when they were arranging an event, this certainly would never

have featured on anyone's list of things that they may wish to either manage

against or insure against in the past," he noted.

Previously, organisers considered issues such as the

"venue not being available" or a "fire just before the

event", but the volcanic ash cloud and the big freeze have changed this.

"This has really highlighted the amount of things

that could actually go wrong and they should consider everything maybe even if

it has never happened before," Mr Blair added.

The consequences of the ash cloud have greatly changed

how organisers are thinking about events, he noted.

"I think organisers have now started to look at

this area of cancellation and abandonment as being a key issue for them in the

future. And, yes, it has meant that we've actually seen a number of people who

previously hadn't considered the insurance now coming to us and asking us some

really interesting questions."

"[Events organisers are thinking that] maybe we

should just reassess the risk and that there could be more than just an issue

at the venue," Mr Blair stated, noting that the volcanic ash and the

 snowfall earlier this year have ensured that more and more event

organisers are now considering the transportation and logistical elements.

"We've also seen that people are actually looking

to talk about their insurances earlier rather than later. As soon as a contract

is signed they are actually coming to us, rather than maybe in the past they

would have waited for a little bit of time before they put the cover in

place," he noted.

While there has been widespread confusion about how

the ash cloud affects people's insurance claims, Mr Blair said that Towergate

Coverex was able to cover claims relating to the ash, so long as the policy was

taken out before the volcano erupted.  

"The insurance policies before this happened all

provided cover for this event because it was…sudden and unforeseen and

therefore it would have been covered."

"There is a perception that insurers exclude

anything as a relating to an 'Act of God' and while this might apply to certain

insurance policies we were pleased to inform our clients that they actually did

have the cover. It was great to give them peace of mind that their event was

fully covered," he stated.

However, as the cloud continued to affect Europe, it was no longer a "sudden and unforeseen"

occurrence, meaning many new policies did not cover incidents relating to the

volcano. "It may be possible for this cover to be bought back into the

policy cover although this needs to be negotiated by the insurance

broker," he added.

Although the events industry has had a difficult

couple of years with the recession, the big freeze and the ash cloud, Mr Blair

is optimistic about Towergate Coverex's and the industry's prospects.  

"Many people are still launching shows and

looking to replicate their brand overseas and that is something we see as very


"We're actually quite encouraged about the rest

of this year and we look forward to helping our clients come out the other side

and work towards a successful 2011," he concluded.