Event planners often prepare for the worst, but one thing they likely didn’t anticipate was a global pandemic when selecting event cancellation insurance policies for their 2020 gatherings. Panicked planners began contacting Marcia McKinney, owner of Northeast Insurance Advisors, in late February and early March, but as meetings and events ground to a halt, they were already out of luck.
“It’s kind of like trying to buy homeowner’s insurance as your house is starting to catch fire... it’s too late,” says McKinney.
Countless events were postponed or cancelled across the globe in order to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, impacting thousands of planners. Businesses were left with enormous losses, be it cash spent on venues, vendors, or items bought in preparation of a gathering, as well as lost earning potential. Event cancellation insurance might have protected them, had they opted for the right coverage. However, most planners often ignore health crises as a possibility, since such events on the scale of COVID-19 are so rare.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks, which changed the way many perceive threats, altered the way events are insured. Companies began requiring planners to opt into terrorism coverage, whereas it was included before. While the coronavirus is a different kind of crisis, McKinney thinks insurers will create different solutions and offerings regarding pandemics within the next six to 12 months, though it’s impossible to predict what shape they’ll take.
“More planners and more people who are planning special events are going to be asking these questions,” says McKinney. “Whereas six months ago, nobody was asking about them.”