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Calling It All Off: Cancellation Insurance for Festivals

With the worsening unpredictability of British weather and terrorist threats increasing, arts organisations and events companies across the country are shoring themselves up with cancellation insurance. Even if it’s a free event with no ticket revenue at stake, cancellation insurance can cover lost expenditure.

Key risks include:

  • Adverse weather for outdoor events: water-logging or high winds.
  • Venue closure due to fire, flood, failure of safety curtain, sanitation problems or access being denied (e.g.: if the area is cordoned off by the police).
  • Non-appearance of artists due to illness, injury or travel delays.
  • Terrorist attack or threat – at the venue or in the vicinity.

What is cancellation insurance?

Cancellation Insurance provides protection for an event which is unavoidably postponed, abandoned, cancelled, curtailed or relocated in circumstances beyond your control.

What can be covered?

  • Your irrecoverable costs & expenses
  • Loss of net revenue or profit or revenue
  • Additional expenses to reduce a loss
  • Damages resulting from failure to vacate a venue for which you are legally liable under contract
  • Future event protection to minimise adverse effect on subsequent events in a series

You can also extend your cover to include:

  • Virtual transmission risk: covers cyber incidents relating to computer systems/infrastructure failure (internet services, gas, water etc) following a cyber incident
  • Terrorism
  • Enforced reduced attendance if a specific incident impacts attendance
  • Foot and mouth Disease
  • National/Court Mourning

Case Studies

Adverse weather

An outdoor opera company cancelled two performances due to floods as neither audience nor orchestra could access the site since all access roads were under water. Settlement: £32,000

Non appearance

An opera singer fell ill with laryngitis days before a European festival appearance. A last minute replacement was found, contracted and travelled in time to make rehearsals and the performance.

Settlement: £80,000

Travel delays

A leading British orchestra arrived at London Heathrow prior to an international tour to find the airport closed due to a strike. Cancellation of the tour would have cost £35,000 and so insurers paid for the orchestra to be transported to Gatwick, where a private plane was chartered to fly them to the first country of the tour.

Settlement: £14,000


Cancellation insurance and Covid-19

Although there is still no cover available for cancellation as a result of coronavirus, public liability insurance may respond in situations where the illness was allegedly contracted at your event as a result of your alleged negligence. Clearly you will need to have updated your risk assessments and health and safety policy specifically addressing Covid.

For advice on keeping your festival financially resilient, contact Mark Boon, Executive Director, Partners&