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Are you virtually covered?

Virtually Covered

by Laura Bickle

Even if you’re not meeting in person, insurance is still needed

While insurance has become a standard line item for live events, and many third-party planners carry their own insurance, the transition of events to virtual might lead you to think insurance is no longer required. You’d be wrong. There are risks inherent to virtual events that can leave you open to litigation, says Andrew Spencer, account executive at PROLINK insurance in Toronto.

Spencer also points out that the insurance industry is still adjusting to the pandemic. “The insurance industry can be glacial in terms of addressing things in real time.”

There are four different types of insurance that you might want to consider, depending on the nature of your virtual event:

Event Cancellation

If the event has to be postponed, curtailed or cancelled, this insurance covers the financial stakeholders, event management company and host. Generally, it replaces the costs that can’t be recovered and puts stakeholders in the same financial state had the event gone ahead.

In terms of virtual events specifically, at this time there is no event cancellation insurance that covers errors and omissions by human beings, such as neglecting to properly test software. However, it can address the failure of equipment or a power outage. “Make sure you hire reputed IT companies that have their own insurance so that you have recourse if something goes wrong,” says Spencer.

Professional liability for event management companies

This insurance covers legal defense costs if a client sues you claiming that you did something negligent, such as not having a proper contingency plan. Even if you are sued on a frivolous basis, you will still have legal costs, says Spencer.

Privacy Breach Insurance

Let’s say the virtual AGM you produced—where financial details and strategic plans were discussed—was hacked. The client could claim that you did not ensure a secure meeting and sue for associated losses.

Commercial General Liability

You know all those conference boxes that are being sent to delegates’ homes? If those goodies get tainted in transit and cause an attendee to get ill, you can be liable. Ditto with those virtual happy hours. If people are drinking during a virtual event—either their own alcohol or some you provided—be sure to have a “Drink Responsibly” message, just as you would at a live event, says Spencer.

Commercial general liability insurance covers your costs if it is claimed you are responsible for bodily injury or property damage. “Contingency law firms, the ones that say ‘we don’t get paid until you get paid,’ mean that you can be sued very frivolously in Canada,” says Spencer.

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