What do peaches, chitlins, gophers, okra, tobacco and balloons have in common? They are just a sampling of the unique festivals held throughout South Carolina. You can attend a festival somewhere in South Carolina just about every week of the year.
Parades, food and craft vendors, fireworks, inflatables, traveling carnivals and concerts - you cannot have a festival without at least some of these. Festivals are a great way to showcase your city or town, but be aware they come with unusual exposure to insurance claims.
Special events normally include a concentration of population, including tourists from out of town. Do not assume "we have never been sued in the past" will serve you in the future. It is better to spend the proper time preparing for a successful event than repairing public opinion or preparing for litigation following injuries or damage to others.
Whose event is it anyway?
Many events are the cooperative effort of several community groups. The Tort Claims Act does not protect a non-governmental entity, generally speaking. These entities should be insured separately and willing to provide evidence of their general liability policy. The Certificate of Insurance should specifically state coverage extends to the event being held.
Are fireworks a problem?
Yes. The South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund and most other traditional insurance policies specifically exclude them and many other events and activities from coverage. Other excluded activities include, but are not limited to, liquor sales, mechanical rides, inflatables, traveling carnivals, balloon rides/shows and rodeos. What can a city do if these risks cannot be avoided? The least expensive method may be to transfer the risk by contract to vendors or sponsors who are insured and will name the municipality as an additional insured. Be sure they have limits of coverage equal to yours. Again, be sure that the Certificate of Insurance is very specific in stating coverage is provided for the specific activity involved.
Should we purchase a special events policy?
Maybe. If you are co-sponsoring an event with an organization that does not have governmental protections or if certain activities are excluded from your general liability coverage and transfer of risk is not possible, a special events policy can provide this coverage. You also might consider the advantages of segregating special events exposures from your general loss exposures.
The Municipal Association’s Municipal Insurance Services has access to other carriers and can offer a quote. For more information, contact Leigh Polhill at 803.354.4752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.