Special events season is in full swing as communities highlight local attractions with parades, festivals, concerts and sports activities. While special events offer fun and an opportunity for the community to come together, they also create liability exposures that are often overlooked.
Even if a municipality is not directly involved in staging the event, it may have liability exposure when public services, resources or property are used.
Local officials can minimize the risks by adopting a special events policy outlining what activities are allowed and whether the governmental entity’s name can be used in promotions, what coverage and limits of insurance are required and type of services that can be provided by the municipality or the outside entity.
The city should also institute an application or permit process to help regulate and properly manage events sponsored by outside parties. Outside entities should complete a comprehensive special events application to ensure the event is safe and successful while having minimal impact on the city. The applicant should specify any service, material or property that he expects the municipality to provide
A staff member (or committee) should coordinate the pre-event planning process and help departments identify risks, develop effective controls for managing the events and determine the event’s impact on the municipality, residents and local businesses.
For each event, officials need to decide if the city will be a sponsor or cosponsor or not participate at all. If the municipality will sponsor or participate in the event, local officials should check the city’s insurance coverage for the level of coverage provided and activities that may be excluded from coverage.
The city should require third parties, contractors and vendors to provide a certificate of insurance, name the city as an additional insured and sign a hold harmless and indemnity agreement to minimize the city’s risk.
The city should get the certificate directly from the insurance agent and ask him to list the date and location of the event and the service the vendor is contracted to provide.
Most public entities have liability coverage without a general exclusion for special events. Unless a particular activity is excluded, liability coverage will apply.
For more information about common insurance exclusions, waivers, alcohol and food sales, medical coverage, security and volunteers, read the article in the June Uptown or attend the “Keep a Special Event ‘Special’ by Avoiding Liability” session during the Association’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, July 10, at 1:30 p.m.