Last year saw the return of the live music concert in both small and large venues across the country. Artists were ready to perform after a year off, and loyal fans were more eager than ever to see their favorite artists in person.
One of the most popular forms of live music, the music festival, returned as well. These music events can draw record numbers of fans over a span of days at the same venue. As much as music festivals are loved, they come with a lot of risks.
On November 5, 2021, we were all reminded of the potential dangers a music festival can bring when a crowd rush resulted in the death of 10 people and 25 hospitalizations at Houston’s annual Astroworld Music Festival.
Music festivals are a complex business with numerous pitfalls and liabilities. It’s crucial that your insurance broker understands the scope and types of risks and can provide the proper coverage.
Music Festival Liability Risk Plan
Risks at a music festival can come from nearly anywhere – an unexpected storm, unruly attendee behavior, or even equipment failure on stage can cause injury or death. Festival promoters and organizers need to prepare for the worst and have emergency plans for everything that might occur. All stakeholders need to be involved, and security personnel should be an integral part of the plan.
Top Risks to Plan for at Music Festivals:
- Active shooter/threats: stand-off (sniper), direct attacks (close quarters)
- Open carry – entry of legally licensed firearms into event and festival sites
- Overcrowding resulting in crowd surges
- Vehicle terror (ramming or intrusion) attacks against crowded places
- Drones – unauthorized airspace intrusion over the event site
Risk Management Tactics
- Hire a Risk Manager – It’s impossible to know where all the risks at your music festival might come from. Risk managers are specialists in keeping guests safe and event producers and organizers out of litigation. Use a risk manager in your planning process and have them on-site well before guests arrive to check the venue for potential issues. Risk managers should be in touch with safety personnel before and during the event.
- Identify Local Authorities – Working with local organizations or offices responsible for permits and safety will help minimize risks for your event. The standards to which you will be held accountable vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A risk manager with knowledge of local event requirements and restrictions, along with strong relationships with authorities and other experts who understand the risks, may prove beneficial.
- Create an Emergency Plan – Every patron that walks through the gate at a music festival enters with an expectation of safety. Event promoters and organizers are responsible for identifying potential emergency scenarios and developing appropriate response procedures. The plan’s development should be a collaborative effort between the event promoter, organizer, and risk manager. Once completed, the event’s leadership team communicates the plan’s formal, documented procedures to staff, vendors, and security personnel.
- Prepare a Medical Team – Festival promoters and organizers should partner with an experienced medical services company to handle sick or injured attendees. Work with the company’s medical director to prepare staff and ensure clear communications among medical personnel and between the promoter/organizer, risk manager, and security director. Medical tent placement is critical. Attendees should be able to identify and access medical tents easily throughout the festival.
Read more: 6 Event Security Tips for Carnivals, Fairs, & Festivals
Outdoor Music Festival Insurance
With all the planning that goes into a successful festival, event promoters and organizers should never lose focus on what could go wrong. From event cancellation to terrorism, from property damage to contractor negligence, the list of risks requiring outdoor musical festival insurance is long.
To combat these potential liabilities, festival owners, promoters, and organizers purchase various insurance policies. These policies can include coverage for general liability, workers’ compensation, commercial auto, rental equipment, spectator liability, cancellation, crime, and terrorism.
Typical Insurance Policies Required for Major Music Festivals
- A general liability policy is a must for festivals, protecting promoters and organizers against liability claims for bodily injury and property damage arising from premises, operations, products, and completed operations.
- Organizers who rent equipment, such as tents, tables, inflatables, etc., will require a commercial property policy to cover damage to the rented equipment.
- Event cancellation protects irrecoverable expenses and lost revenue if their festival is delayed, canceled, or interrupted.
- Workers’ compensation policies may be required if promoters and organizers have employees.
- Auto coverage may be needed for organizers who utilize or rent vehicles in connection with its festival.
Read more: Best Practices for Event Volunteer Management and Mitigating Risk
Be sure to have a solid plan for mitigating festival risks, including coverage for any unanticipated incidents.
By partnering with McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance, your festival management team gets an insurance company with a deep understanding of the entertainment industry and experience packaging insurance coverage specific to your needs.
Let us help you with your upcoming outdoor music event.