Every festival and event planner should have
a basic knowledge of insurance issues affecting him or her. These issues
become even more important as other organizations approach risk
management more assertively.
Here's a rundown
of some of the tools necessary to secure a successful future for your
festival or event.
Use a type size
of at least 10 point.
Keep form to
one sheet and to that single purpose.
Keep wording as
clear as possible.
Make it clear
that the signing participant understand and accepts that the risk of
serious injury exists, "including both known and unknown risks."
phrasings in first person ("I acknowledge…I accept").
waiver also applies to "acts of negligence to the fullest extent
permitted by law."
specific risks only if they are unusual and relevant. Don't include a
list specifying all risks that could occur.
release of the insured (and all who act for the insured) be on behalf of
his/her heirs, assigns, and next of kin.
participant sign prior to the paragraph for parent or guardian (to
document the minor's own assumption of risk).
parent/guardian release and indemnify the insured et al as well as agree
to he participation of their minor child.
should be bold, large, and obvious that this is a waiver of important
rights, and the form, content, and process should make it clear that the
participant could have read it and understood it prior to signing it.
Use it, keep
it, but don't rely on it.
Share it with
your insurance company's underwriters for review.
waivers and releases are not substitutes for good loss control
Certificates of Insurance
A certificate of
insurance or "cert" is a standard document in the world of insurance
that confirms the insured is indeed insured, for how much, by whom, and
for how long. Its purpose is to confirm to you that a second party has
insurance to protect your from unnecessary involvement in a suit for
which that second party should have taken full responsibility.
Festival and event
planners often must use facilities and premises owned by others who
demand certificates and often ask to be named as "additional insureds." Some
insurance companies provide certs typically on a gratis basis; other
insurers often charge $10-$25 per cert, which for some clients can
become a major expense. Ask your broker or account executive for
procedures to follow. The "additional insured" courtesy means that the
entity specified will be defended by your policy if brought into a suit
that relates to the operations being insured. This is a normal
concession, provided that the entity has a functional relationship with
your operations during the period of exposure for which the cert was
requested, and that it is only valid with regard to the responsibilities
of the insured.
Certificates of others
First, insure that second
parties, to whose risks you are exposed, have coverage of at least
$1,000,000 per occurrence; if athletes are involved, participant legal
liability coverage is needed as well. Second, ask to be named as an
additional insured on their policies for this function. Third, respect
that this document only certifies the coverage shown on the date the
certificate was issued. The client may have subsequently canceled
coverage, had their policy canceled by the carrier, or exhausted their
aggregate limits for that policy period (which means "there just ain't
no more left" to pay a claim due to prior claims that reached those
Participant Waivers and
Releases in Festivals and Events
and minor release forms, properly prepared and obtained, are invaluable
to festival and event planners. They indicate that to participate is a
conscious voluntary decision and have been successful under particular
legal conditions in obtaining summary judgments for the defense.
Typically required as a condition of sport liability insurance coverage,
these forms may also be helpful in other contexts having restricted
A waiver or release obtains an
acknowledgment that participation involves a risk of injury, even
catastrophic injury, and that the participant accepts that risk. By
signing, participants "waive" their right to sue should an injury occur,
and thereby "release" the sponsor and its agents from liability for any
such injury that should occur. A parent or guardian must sign a minor's
release if the participant is not of legal age.
Form and Content
Even the most properly
prepared waivers are no guarantee of a summary judgment, but waivers
that are not properly prepared almost guarantee judicial rejection.
Ultimately, the Insured should rely on their own insurance and legal
counsel when preparing waivers for actual use.
Guidelines for preparing
Policy secures directors
Festivals face an
increased risk of lawsuits each year. Planners must take steps to
understand and protect their events against potential losses, said
Steven Wood Schmader, CFE, president of the Boise River Festival.
"You can't take the risk of being
unprotected," he said. "In this day and age, unfortunately, people are