The world has changed and the special events industry must change with it. Here are four strategies agents can use to help get their clients back to work while managing risk.
The entertainment and live events industry—along with their insurance providers—have been through a nightmare scenario since COVID-19 struck in the U.S. While virtual events have helped fill gaps, people's desire to experience live events in person will not be denied.
Although vaccines have helped the country begin to return to business as usual, special events insurance clients should not expect things to look “normal" quite yet. Insurers can't just flip a switch and go back to how it was in 2019. COVID-19 is still present and threatening—particularly as the Delta variant spreads, largely among unvaccinated people.
The world has changed, and the industry must change with it. But the good news is that agents can get their clients back to work while managing risk. Here are four strategies to help:
1) Assess safety protocols. Agents should begin every client engagement with a full safety assessment. During initial conversations with prospective or ongoing customers, agents should start at the top by assessing the management's commitment to safety.
Encouraging proper training for industry veterans and newcomers alike should be the industry's highest priority. Clients must also hire the right employees and educate them about the exposures and controls that they're going to encounter on the job. The Event Safety Alliance provides Event Safety Access Training that includes information on reopening, including COVID-19 compliance protocols.
Additionally, rusty safety practices after such a long layoff can be extremely dangerous. New hires and experienced workers will benefit from a refresher course after the long coronavirus pandemic shutdown.
2) Face the challenge as COVID-19 persists. Another major question agents will face is what can clients do to ensure the safety of their customers? According to the CDC, there's plenty that can be done, such as:
- Make sure the air handling system is up to current needs.
- Ensure the filtration system is up to the latest standards.
- Train staff to know what they need to do to mitigate pathogen risks.
- Institute a timed entrance and exit policy.
- Create a system that ensures that non-compliant mask-wearers are prohibited from entering.
These and other practices can be enforced by an onsite COVID-19 compliance officer. Businesses can either train somebody who's currently on staff or hire someone who's gone through COVID-19 compliance training. That person makes sure that all COVID-19 protocols are being followed.
In the insurance industry, we know the value of a knowledgeable risk manager. If there's one positive that came out of this pandemic, it's that clients' eyes have been opened to the importance of risk management. In the past, it was a “nice to have" area.
Risk mitigation is very hard to quantify if nothing happens—it ends up on the bottom line as a production cost. But clients sometimes forget that those costs can translate into reduced insurance premiums.
3) Have a plan. In the special events industry, you need multiple plans of action. This is particularly true for the post-pandemic environment. One of the first things to discuss with clients is their contingencies, backup locations and covered locations to ensure they can always move their production forward.
For example, if a production is being held at an outdoor location and a weather event occurs, they should have another location on deck or a robust refund or rescheduling policy. This is a time for flexibility. The industry must stay malleable. We need contingency plans for our contingency plans.
4) Look ahead. It's important to recognize that clients are going back to business in a less-than-stable state. Live event workers have been parked now for more than a year and their intuitive and instinctive nature of how to do their job has been dulled. They're in a different place emotionally. They've been scarred. They're going to come back anxious and nervous about how to do their jobs safely and securely. They're going to come back confused about the environment because they've been out of it for so long. All this means a heightened potential for accidents.
Insurance will play a critical role in helping live events get back on their feet. Embrace it, prepare yourself to answer the many questions you'll receive and try to make everyone feel stronger than they are as they re-take the stage.
Scott Carroll is vice president and program director of Take1 Insurance.