Hayrides, pumpkin patches, and haunted houses: Are your seasonal events insured?


Hayrides, pumpkin patches, haunted houses – all these special events require special responsibilities. If your nonprofit is holding a seasonal event this fall, manage it with the right special event insurance.

Check your coverage

Special event policies protect you during a one-time event (or a series of events) that are outside your normal scope of operation. Even if you already have some special event coverage built into your policy, take time to review any stipulations regarding certain activities or the maximum number of participants. So before you organize that corn maze race or apple pie eating competition, check with your insurance agent to make sure you’re protected.


Manage your risk

Here are six key reminders about insurance for nonprofits planning special events:

1. Think carefully before you include an additional insured endorsement to your policy. The endorsement provides coverage for someone who performs work for you under a written contract. Sometimes these contracts transfer far more risk than your nonprofit can reasonably protect against. Discuss these requests with your attorney and your insurance agent. They can help you evaluate which requests are reasonable and negotiate fair liability.

2. Request a certificate of insurance from each of your vendors – even those doing your organization a special favor or offering services for a reduced fee. If someone is providing a professional service to your organization, they have to be insured for any harm they could cause. A certificate of insurance shows proof of insurance.


3. If your event is co-sponsored with another nonprofit or company, document each partners’ insurance requirements and risk responsibilities.

4. Notify your insurance agent of any special exposures such as alcohol, sporting events, fireworks, animals, or tours. You may need additional coverage.

5. If your event involves any special hazards (horseback riding, competitive sports, bounce houses) get waivers from participants and volunteers. These signed waivers will prevent participants from holding you responsible for any injuries that may occur during your event.

6. Include a safety committee as part of your event planning team. Ask them to think about safety precautions you should have at the event (a first aid kit or tent? volunteer EMTs?) and what steps to take if an emergency would occur.

Protect yourself with careful planning and the right insurance. And above all, don’t assume responsibility for something you have no control over. Because whether you’re throwing a Harvest Dance or a Halloween Bash…being unprotected is a scary thing!


*This blog was originally posted Sept. 3, 2013. The content was validated, updated as needed, and reposted for your convenience.

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