An image of co-founder, James Dutton, speaking with Harrier safety and Tysers insurance on a conference panel.

Run for Cover

Method Co-Founder, James Dutton, joined event insurance specialists Tim Rudland and Tim Thornhill from Tysers, and Event Safety Advisor Helen Mccabe from Harrier, to host a panel at the AIF Festival Congress 2023 discussing disaster scenarios and how an event’s insurance policy would respond.

Tysers, who sponsored the conference, originally reached out to Method for help in devising a format for a panel they wanted to host on the topic of event insurance. The challenge was how to discuss a topic that is often considered to be quite dry and procedural in a way that is relatable, engaging, and useful for an audience of event organisers. The starting point was a mock tabletop exercise, where a series of disaster scenarios would be discussed in the context of insurable outcomes. This was developed into the presentation of four scenarios, which covered a range of policy nuances and noteworthy considerations.

In order for these scenarios to be relatable, they were applied to a hypothetical event format much like those produced by the other festival organisers in the room:


  • 15,000 cap
  • Multi-stage
  • Camping
  • Friday-Monday, mid-June


  • Rural location, but within commuting distance of a major city
  • Taking place on a privately-owned farm
  • A long-standing event that has grown over the years now uses every square-inch of the available land
  • One car park, 3 campsites (family, VIP & general), one arena with a natural amphitheatre around the stage


  • Family-friendly, broad audience profile
  • Large contingent of 16-18 year-old, rite of passage for school leavers
  • Largely local audience, most travelling less than an hour to site, most using cars, big chunk using public transport

Each scenario was swathed in context; painting a picture of where in the event timeline the incidents might develop, and what background factors there are to contend with. For example, the first scenario centred around a burst water main at the end of the build phase, causing critical damage to the main gate and arena. The conditions for the build up until this point had been moderately wet, but nothing overly problematic. When a member of the decor team pushes a putlog through a water main erecting a sign at the entrance, the main entrance is immediately flooded with water running down into the arena to pool in front of the main stage. Vehicle movement is held in the affected areas, which are cordoned off, and the local utility provider is called. An incident report is completed by the decor team and the utility company works through the night, creating a large crater in the middle of the one gate and the main arena is a swamp.

The likely outcome here is that the event would be cancelled, as with the infrastructure already built there is no scope to alter the site design to function around the hazard. The question then becomes: are losses covered by the event’s cancellation insurance? Tim and Tim ran through the process: Was this incident beyond the control of the organiser and any participant?

  • If yes, cancellation insurance would be proportionate and pay for additional costs to save the event. If it can’t be saved, insurance would respond and cover the organiser’s ascertained net loss.
  • If no, then the policy would not cover the loss, and the organiser would be left looking to apportion liability. If applicable, the liability would be directed at that third party, so it becomes vitally important that all suppliers and freelancers have the relevant insurances to claim against, whether it be Public Liability or Professional Indemnity.

The subsequent scenarios followed the same format of context, issue, escalation and policy response. The issues covered included a severe food poisoning outbreak, an electrical storm triggering show stop procedures, a stage barrier collapse, and the impact of industrial action on cancellation claims. This last one proved to be particularly timely with rail strikes scheduled for the day of the AIF Congress. Thankfully this did not deter the audience, and the event was a well-attended and thoroughly enjoyable day of industry networking and thought-provoking content.



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