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Understanding Trade Show Insurance Part II

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Welcome to “Exhibitor Lounge” sponsored by Exhibit Edge.com.  I am your host and Trade Show Mixologist, Michael Gray. Here, each week, you receive simple, practical, and proven tips to improve your trade show marketing strategy and get better results while maximizing your budget.

Today let’s talk about your exhibit property. I need to sound the alarm bells for this episode. Most exhibitors do not realize how exposed they are to loss or damage when they have exhibit property moving to and from the exhibit site.

The response that I usually hear is “I didn’t damage or lose it so why is it my fault”? It is not your fault but it is your responsibility especially because of liability limits. OK, take a deep breath and let me explain.

Display houses like Exhibit Edge do carry insurance when they prep and load exhibits at their facility. Once they load the truck and the exhibit heads to the destination then the responsibility shifts to the carrier. The carrier’s liability is limited to an average of .50 cents per pound unless extra insurance is requested and added to the order upfront. So let’s say that you have a 300 pound pallet – then the maximum liability for the entire pallet would be 150 dollars. If you had a pop-up exhibit, a monitor, literature and give-a-ways then the limit would do little to offset the 3 to 6 thousand dollar cost for replacements.

Now let’s say that all goes well and the shipment makes it to the show site. The show contractor unloads the carrier and delivers the shipment to the booth. You discover damage to the wrapped pallet and find that your popup case is broken and your monitor is cracked. Did the carrier cause the damage or the show contractor? You file a claim with the show contractor only to discover that they also have limited liability which is stated at 50 cents per pound or 50 dollars maximum per item. Are you seeing a pattern here? When reading show rules you could come to the conclusion that the “show contractor is responsible for everything – but liable for almost nothing”.

Now, you can request extra transit insurance through the carrier to cover your exhibit property for the full replacement amount. Know that there are still stringent rules that have to be met in order to collect on a claim.

1. Was the damage noted on the bill of lading upon delivery of the property to the show site?

2. Was the item packed in its original container?

3. Is there evidence of external damage causing internal damage?

4. Can proof be ascertained as to who caused the damage? And so on.

Many people look to the display house to cover damage or loss when it occurs. They decide that the exhibit company made the arrangements, picked the carriers, and therefore should be responsible for all parties involved in the transportation network. In reality, that is not an accurate understanding from a legal or practical viewpoint. From a common sense perspective, ask yourself this question; how can an exhibit company be held accountable when they are not in control of the shipment or the shipping process. Bottom line: When multiple companies are involved in a shipment, it is critical that the insurance needed to cover property damage or loss is in place by the property owner. You are the only one who is able to acquire this type of insurance.

Another way to understand this is to use the analogy of automobile insurance. You loan your car to a friend and they damage the vehicle in an accident. It is their fault, not yours – right? Well, a better way to say it is: It is not your fault but it is your responsibility. The insurance covers the vehicle, no matter who is the driver.

The easiest way to insure exhibit property is through a rider on insurance that covers your company assets. This rider covers property when offsite.  Please consult with your insurance company to get complete information. You need to tell them the average number of times it will be in transit and the property value.

Let me also make a special note to home based businesses. Most of Americas 11 million home based businesses are vulnerable to significant loss because they do not have the proper business insurance coverage. Most homeowner policies limit loss of business property to $2,500, don’t cover losses away from the home, and exclude liability coverage for business-related activity. Please protect yourself and your property.

As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM. We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.