Insurance won’t protect you against circumstances that are wholly beyond your control. The right circumstances will ruin your event. But, proper insurance cover will at least mean that you and other people don’t suffer financially as a result.

Imagine the worst-case scenario: that everyone has turned up in your city ready for your conference, and for whatever reason, there is no conference. Perhaps the venue has burned down overnight, or is closed because of a strike. Perhaps everyone on the committee has fallen too ill to work.

It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic: a broken sewer pipe or electrical fault can shut down a building unexpectedly.

If you’re obliged to give attendees or sponsors their money back (and some will have paid by credit card, so even if you don’t feel obliged, some will get their money back whether you like it or not) you could easily find yourself facing bills substantially larger than your annual income - a ruinous sum.

If you’re not able to pay everyone back, you could even face legal action by your creditors.

This is what insurance will protect you against.

An example

There are various kinds of insurance for events, and numerous companies that specialise in providing events insurance.

For DjangoCon Europe 2015 Europe 2015, our insurance or six days at our two venues cost us just under £620 and took half an hour to arrange. It was a small price to pay for the peace of mind. It included cover against:

  • Cancellation/abandoment of the event: £117‘000

    Covered expenses in the event of having to return money for a cancelled event, claims against us in case we failed to vacate the venue in time, and so on. We were protected against bad weather and terrorists, but specifically not against the activity of Icelandic volcanos.

    Our expenses were covered, but not loss of net profit (which would have made it qute a bit more expensive), since we weren’t relying on making any.

  • Property damage at the venue: £30‘000

    Covered our property and other people’s property, including while being transported. Items such as laptop computers were excluded.

  • Public liability: £2‘000‘000

    General damage or harm for which we could be held liable.

  • Employer’s liability: £10‘000‘000

    Obviously we had no employees, but even unpaid volunteers count as employees.

Our cover was provided by Hiscox Events Insurance.

Insurance is not enough

As noted above, insurance might save you financially, but might not be able to save your event. You also need to build backups and redundancy into your plans, from backup What if your venue becomes unexpectedly unavailable? to making sure that more than one member of the committee has access to bank accounts and so on.