The news is currently filled with stories about a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) infecting people following an outbreak in Wuhan, China and the measures that are being undertaken to slow down rates of transmission. One of the most obvious ways for governments to try to slow infection rates is to reduce instances where large amounts of people gather. This obviously has a massive effect on the event planning and event hire industry.
While at the time of writing no advice has yet been received from the government about holding events, it would appear to only be a matter of time before events start getting cancelled as numbers of infections rise.
This puts event planners in a difficult position balancing ordering equipment and services for events against the probability that an event might be cancelled. Organisers should take into account that an event can be affected even if there are no cases of coronavirus close by as people may be reluctant to travel to the event or even restricted from doing so. The World Health Organisation have advised Sky News on March 3 that:
“There is no event without the risk of coronavirus.”
Right now, the most important thing that an event planner can do is to insure their event against cancellation due to COVID-19. However, this can be problematic and it’s important that insurance policies are checked thoroughly. While standard event cancellation cover will ensure an event organiser isn’t out of pocket for events beyond their control, it’s often the case that there will be a communicable disease clause that would need to be removed for an event to be insured against cancellation due to something like COVID-19.
As it stands, insurers have not yet imposed a general exclusion against COVID-19 as they are waiting to see how the situation develops. However, as infection rates rise it’s possible the additional rate for this additional cover will rise or even be removed altogether. Therefore, it makes sense for any event organiser to sort out insurance for their event promptly.
Insurance brokers Howden offer further advice at this link.
The outbreak of COVID-19 affects us massively too. We have already seen events cancelled due to issues surrounding the outbreak, which has meant we have had to examine our own procedures and protocols closely.
The biggest effect it has on customers is an update to our cancellations policy in our terms and conditions. We regret that for now we cannot offer a refund for any order once it has been placed although we will consider offering credit notes instead at our discretion.
This has been an incredibly difficult decision for us to take but has been done with the intention of protecting our own business and employees from the effect of a mass of cancellations. We must stress that it is vital that any event organiser places an order makes their own contingency plans should the event be cancelled to protect themselves also.