Events Post-COVID: 5 Common Mistakes and Tips from the PROs to Minimize Your Risk Exposure

Since COVID, most events have shifted to either Virtual or Hybrid delivery.  A common assumption is that there is no need to worry about managing risk since the event is not LIVE.  Events are risky by nature because they integrate so many unknown variables that can be unpredictable and usually off the radar.  

To get the inside scoop on what you should know about risk when planning virtual and hybrid events, we chatted with Business Development Manager of the year finalist Josh Pillsbury from APOLLO Insurance to get the answers for common mistakes.  APOLLO is a Canadian digital insurance company that gets you the right coverage, quick and easily. 

Here is the summary of the Top 5 Mistakes and Tips to help you minimize your risk exposure.

  • Alcohol consumption is not a liability issue for the hosting organization since it is a virtual location and guests are at home.

There are a couple of problems with this.  First, if the host supplies the alcohol and/or promotes consumption of alcohol for the event, they have the same liability for damages, injury, and death as if it were a Live event.  Secondly, the host is assuming the guest is participating in the virtual event at home and not transporting to a secondary location post the event. Even with a clear understanding, disclaimer, and ensuring that reasonable precautions are taken to ensure the safety of your guests, you may be liable. Josh explains that,”Many hosts do not realize that, legally speaking, it is their responsibility to make sure guests are not overserved and are not drinking and driving.”.  For example, they drive to pick up someone after your event in which they consumed alcohol you supplied.  Getting event alcohol liability will minimize financial risk and cover you for the unforeseen and unfortunate events.  

  • Streaming events is simple and doesn’t have any legal issues to worry about.

No.  All content, private property and persons, need to provide consent prior to publicly being distributed.  LIVE Streaming does not allow for edits should something happen where this requirement is compromised.  A couple ways of mitigating this issue is to LIVE Stream in a controlled environment where you have signed permission by the venue, persons, and owners of property being streamed.  Secondly, especially if your LIVE stream is not in a controlled environment, get event liability coverage. This is   important since social media can be problematic with spreading compromised content which can go viral very quickly and damages can be extensive.   

  • Event cancellation is not an issue to worry about since the event is not LIVE.

Although you often do not need to worry about cancellation fees associated with venues, catering, decor, or other LIVE features, you do have expenses associated with your event such as special speakers, production, promotional costs, ticket fees, etc.  If you have expenses associated with your event, you have risk.  

Another issue that can arise with Virtual or Hybrid events is issues with technology.  Here is a short video from member, Peter Katz, on what you need to know to manage your bandwidth, power outages, internet/platform issues, etc. 

Peter is a pro and knows what he is talking about. 

Another great way to manage this risk is, you guessed it, get event coverage for this.

Upon reflecting on the impact that COVID had on how organizations engage with their communities, Josh added, “ In 2020, with so much business being done virtually, you may want to explore carrying a cyber liability insurance policy. If there was a cyber security incident which cancelled or interrupted your virtual event, business interruption coverage for example could compensate you for lost revenue.”.  It really is not a lot and you will be happy to have it in case the worst case scenario happens.

  • Injury or damage is not a concern since people are at their own location.

Sorry, no.  This is a common mistake but if an injury or damage occurs as a direct result of participating in your event, you are liable.  Of course there are other factors to consider when assessing this but risk is still there for the host.  Josh added, “It is critical to make sure you review your business insurance policy with your broker before hosting any virtual event or seminar. In some cases, your existing commercial general liability coverage may specifically exclude coverage for online operations, especially if you have attendees overseas.”.

You can mitigate some of this risk but promoting safety measures such as stretching, clearing a space, promoting participants to wear appropriate clothing, etc for activity requiring movement.  Also, minimizing alcohol consumption with activity is a good idea.  But how can you control all these factors in someone else’s space?  You can’t.  Therefore, getting the appropriate event and business insurance for this will help you mitigate the financial risk from this should the “unforeseen” occur.  

  • COVID related issues are addressed since the event is Virtual.

Mostly true but there are potential risks to consider. This is the one area the insurance companies have mitigated their risk. Josh explains, “At this time there are very few insurance policies that would cover liability exposures with respect to transmission of communicable diseases, such as COVID-19. Before hosting an in-person event during this pandemic, all hosts must make sure they are following their respective health authorities guidelines, and are comfortable with the risk they are taking on as a business.”.  If you are having a Hybrid event, you have a LIVE component which means there is potential risk for COVID exposure.  Even to follow health guidelines and go that extra mile to minimize exposure, nothing is full proof.  Having the event virtually until COVID issues are resolved is probably the best way to mitigate this risk.  

We hope this article has been helpful as you continue to engage with your communities virtually. Thanks to Josh Pillsbury for sharing your insight and expertise on this very important topic.  To learn more about how to mitigate your risk and get the right coverage for your event and business, contact APOLLO and get the right coverage quickly and easily. 

Remember to also check out for FREE access to event resources, blueprints, and vetted pros to help you deliver amazing events, easy.




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