Today’s topic is what you need to consider for trade show insurance. We will start with a disclaimer that we are not an insurance expert. You should consult with your insurance company to understand what insurance policies you have in place and what that insurance covers. My goal is to get you thinking about different scenarios where you may be vulnerable, not to provide insurance advice.
There are three basic types of coverage for trade show insurance:
- Event cancellation/disruption
- Personal Property
Event Cancellation or Disruption
Most companies overlook event cancellation or disruption insurance but it may be wise to look at a general policy that covers a year’s worth of shows and at least get a quote. The recent tragedy in Boston that shut down the city, hurricanes, and floods, and the government sequester cuts that canceled many shows are all examples of lost expenditures that could potentially fall under this type of insurance. Being prepared for these potential hiccups when you’re planning your next trade show can make it easier to handle these challenges.
Liability and Personal Property
Insurance for personal exhibit property is often overlooked as well. It is not something that is talked about or budgeted for in Marketing Departments. We will cover personal property insurance next week but today we want to go over liability.
So, what is liability? Basically, it is the responsibility that one person or group has toward another person or group either through a legal justification or debt related occurrence. It almost always occurs as a lawsuit. In plain terms: You did something wrong to someone and they want to hold you responsible.
Show venues and organizers will require that you provide a certificate of Insurance with liability coverage of usually up to 1 million dollars. The Association or show organizer may ask that you include the venue (meaning the show location) and the organizer as “additional insured”. What this does for them is to put your insurance in front of their insurance as the first line of defense in the event of a lawsuit. Exhibitor Appointed Contractors (EAC’s) like Exhibit Edge that install and dismantle exhibits on the show floor are also required to provide this proof of insurance.
What you need to understand is that there are so many different contractors, exhibitors, and attendees at trade shows. So you should realize that the blame game can go a long way when someone suffers an injury or damage to property. We can think of many scenarios where exhibitors can be liable:
- Walking behind your exhibit and knocking down the exhibit behind you.
- Someone tripping in the aisle because of an item from your booth that fell off the counter.
- A fire that started from computer power pack inside your counter or behind the exhibit, etc.
Protect Your Event Property
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 giveaways 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.
Do I Need to Make a Claim?
- Was the damage noted on the bill of lading upon delivery of the property to the show site?
- Was the item packed in its original container?
- Is there evidence of external damage causing internal damage?
- Can proof be ascertained as to who caused the damage? And so on.
Making a Claim on Trade Show Insurance
Many people look to the display house to cover damage or loss when it occurs. They decide that the exhibiting 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?
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.
Verify that your business insurance covers special events and related employees. If necessary, you can purchase a short term liability insurance policy for a specific event just like you can purchase rental car insurance.
The easiest way to insure exhibit property is through a rider on the 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 us also make a special note to home-based businesses. Most of America’s 11 million home-based businesses are vulnerable to significant loss because they do not have the proper business insurance coverage. Most homeowner policies limit the 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.