Recent Stage Collapses Highlight Need for All Live Event Companies to Have Top-Quality Insurance

The summer of 2011 was a rollercoaster season for organizers of outdoor music festivals all over the world. Over a span of just five weeks in July and August, extreme weather caused four stage or equipment collapses at major music festivals in North America and Europe, resulting in untold millions of dollars of equipment damage. These catastrophes underscore the importance for every touring production company, band, rental houses and event organizer to have a comprehensive insurance policy for their equipment.

Weather-related stage and equipment collapses occurred at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, the Brady Block Party in Tulsa, OK, and Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium. According to Scott Carroll, Executive Vice President of Take1 Insurance, these types of incidents are exactly what live event producers, touring companies, rental houses, band managers, and film and television production companies need to be prepared for.

“As musicians continue to expand their touring seasons, to make up for lost revenue from declining album sales, it is increasingly important for all parties involved to have specialized insurance in case of an incident, especially for outdoor events,” said Carroll. “Weather is always a factor in stage design as well as in our insurance risk assessment. As evidenced by several unfortunate incidents this summer, extreme weather is becoming more commonplace, so touring and production companies simply cannot afford to risk not insuring the stage, sound, lighting and video equipment that is often worth into the millions of dollars.”

In recent years music tours large and small have begun using more elaborate staging, often including live cameras, video walls and dozens of lights with elaborate orchestration. Carroll contends that with all of the planning and engineering that go into these stunning stage designs, a comprehensive insurance policy is as important as the equipment itself.

Just last summer, live video capture and playback company Chaos Visual Productions found out how lucky they were to have Take1 as their insurance provider when a $1 million video wall was utterly destroyed in a flash wind and rain storm at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, PA. In a span of 60 seconds the conditions went from calm and overcast to pouring rain with gusts of wind strong enough to whip the video wall around like a sheet hanging on a clothesline. Take1 fully covered the loss.

And the devastating monetary effects of such incidents aren’t lost on the artists, either. After the main stage collapsed at Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium during a performance by the American band the Smith Westerners, the band said on Twitter, “Almost got crushed by the trees, I hope Pukkelpop has insurance because all our equipment is broken.” It may have been covered, but maybe not. If they get their own insurance policy with Take1, they won’t have to take that chance.

Carroll is quick to point out that insurance for an outdoor event is not the same as insurance for a company who sometimes performs or works at outside events. He also notes that as staging systems are increasingly upgraded to bring the look and feel of indoor events to the outdoors, the insurance industry needs to study the underwriting issues and learn new questions that need to be addressed, as well as possibly introducing stricter risk mitigation requirements from clients.

Take1’s specialty program has designed inland marine coverage, among other specialty coverages for the entertainment industry, that automatically applies everywhere in the world, without the need for additional riders or endorsements. It eliminates co-insurance, thus protecting 100% of the insured value of the equipment covered; provides automatic replacement cost valuation; allows for separate limits in key individual coverage areas like owned equipment, equipment rented from others, equipment in the insured’s Care Custody and Control (CCC), and equipment in transit; flood coverage for equipment in transit; and blanket limits that eliminate the need for clients’ to itemize each and every piece of equipment, cable, LED panel, etc. being covered.