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Do I need public liability insurance for a charity event?

05/12/2023

You need public liability insurance for a charity event in case your singer falls off the stage

Throwing a charity event is a wonderful thing. It raises your charity’s profile and brings people together. All while drumming up those all-important funds that keep you going.

Naturally, you want everything to go smoothly. So, you plan and prep. Carry out risk assessments, train your staff up on health and safety…all that good stuff.

But in the end, there’s only so much you can do ahead of the day. Accidents happen when people get together. And if you’re held to blame, it could drain away your charity’s funds quicker than a bottomless donations tin.

Which is why having public liability (PL) insurance for a charity event is crucial. It’s peace-of-mind protection for any surprise scenarios.

Welcome back

It’s been a tough few years for charities. First, they’ve had to deal with the COVID pandemic disrupting their fundraising activities. Then the cost-of-living crisis putting a strain on their donors’ finances.

Let’s not forget, too, the cuts to funding and grants from local authorities that have left many charities struggling.

Despite this triple whammy, most charities have managed to adapt. Whether that’s by investing more in their digital resources or by throwing online fundraisers that are cheap to run.

With social distancing behind us, more charities are returning to face-to-face events. And no wonder: 20% of people in the UK say they intend to donate more to charity in 2023 than in 2022.

Do I need insurance for a charity event?

The fact that so many people are willing to dig deep in their pockets for a worthy cause is, of course, great news for your charity.

But it’s a balancing act. Because for all the money you raise, there’s always the risk that something goes wrong and someone blames you for it.

Unfortunately, people can and do get injured at charity events. But not only that. Property gets damaged, money goes AWOL…and who can ever do anything about the weather?

Fundraising insurance saves the day by covering your legal costs and any liable compensation if there’s a mishap or accident at your event and someone sues you for the damages.

Checks and balances

Getting your insurance straightened out might not be the first thing you think about when planning a fundraising event. Ideally, though, you should have some in place before you start signing contracts with suppliers.

The Fundraising Regulator spells it out clearly in their code of practice. Before hosting a charity event, you should:

  • Carry out a risk assessment, regardless of the size of your event. Whether it’s a handful of volunteers dishing up tea and cake in the village hall or a fun run involving hundreds of people.
  • Brief your staff on health & safety (emergency evacuation procedures, first aid training, whether the venue has any rules you should stick to, etc.)
  • Know your liabilities. Including who’s responsible if you accidentally damage the building or if someone trips over a wonky paving slab outside. This might mean having a conversation with the venue owner about what their insurance covers. And what your insurance needs to cover.
  • Sort out your charity event cover. You’ll need the legally required kind, like employers’ liability insurance for your volunteers and staff. You’ll also need charity public liability insurance to cover accidental damage or injuries to the public.

Do I need public liability insurance for a charity event?

Let’s get a few things straight. Because there’s a difference between public liability for charity events and the multiple types of cover sold under the banner of ‘charity event insurance’.

Depending on the size of your event and what cover you need, you could end up choosing one type of insurance over the other. Or even both.

So, let’s start with charity public liability insurance. It covers accidental property damage and injuries to the public at your event. If a visitor slips a disc after tripping over a loose electrical lead, for example. Or if you scuff the floors of the hall you’ve rented while moving heavy equipment around.

Charity event PL also covers anything you sell – just so long as it’s made by you and not another manufacturer. So, if Doris chips her crown on some brittle biscotti at your bake sale, PL has her dental bill covered.

The other thing to remember is most charity event PL is for events up to a certain size – often 500 people. So, make sure you get cover that’s suitable for the kind of events you run.

For most small charities, public liability is usually enough to cover all your coffee mornings, fun runs, bike rides, meet-ups, etc. for the whole year. Oh, and if you need to up the limits of your cover at any point, you can.

What other insurance do I need for a charity event?

Public liability only covers accidents and injuries involving the public. So you’ll need other insurance for your additional risks.

Employers’ liability (EL) insurance is legally required to cover your staff and volunteers if they get ill or injured while helping out. If someone does their back in while bending to lift a heavy speaker, and claims you didn’t train them properly, EL will pay your legal costs and any compensation you owe.

Next, your kit. You might want to protect it if you buy or hire things like AV equipment, furniture, or marquees for your events. If something happens to them, the costs can quickly stack up. Contents and portable equipment insurance pays to repair or replace anything that’s lost, damaged, or stolen.

Last but not least, money theft insurance covers you if someone swipes a donations tin or money box from under your nose. Charity fundraisers can get hectic, and, sadly, opportunists exist. Hopefully, it won’t happen. But if it does, it might help to know you'll be reimbursed.

So, where does charity event insurance come in?

Charity event insurance is different to public liability. It’s an all-in-one policy that’s designed to cover large, one-off events.

Depending on the insurer, it can include public liability, employers’ liability, property, event cancellation, money theft, and other types of insurance.

A charity might need charity event insurance if they're organising an event for a large number of people and want to protect the money they raise through ticket sales, sponsorship, and the like.

If they’re forced to cancel their fundraiser because of bad weather or because the guest speaker hasn’t turned up, they could stand to lose a large chunk of their funds. Charity event insurance can help them recoup some of those losses.

Don’t risk it for a biscuit

Despite all the planning in the world, things can and do go wrong at charity fundraisers. Even more so when you're distracted, or when your time and resources are stretched.

You know what’s at stake better than anyone else. So, ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what fundraising insurance you need.

Our advice, though, if your charity runs lots of meet-ups and small events throughout the year, is to protect yourself with charity event public liability insurance. Then, look at what other cover you might need.

Bear in mind, too, that if you’re only organising one or two large fundraisers a year, with lots of suppliers and vendors involved, then you might be better off with charity event insurance.

Need a helping hand with your charity public liability insurance? Call our team on 0345 222 5391 for friendly, expert advice.

Image under license from istock

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