Do you need festival insurance?

Festivals are a great way for us to get together and connect. But behind the scenes they take a lot of work (and expense) to put on. If you’re organising a festival, don’t forget to arrange insurance to make sure you’re covered if it all doesn’t go quite to plan.

Festivals are a great way for us to get together and connect. But behind the scenes they take a lot of work (and expense) to put on. If you’re organising a festival, don’t forget to arrange insurance to make sure you’re covered if it all doesn’t go quite to plan.

Emily Kindness
Business insurance expert
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Last Updated 13 MAY 2022

Why do I need insurance when organising a festival? 

Whether you’re putting on a four-day music event or the local village fete, having a comprehensive insurance policy could help to protect you from any unexpected claims. Because no matter how well you organise, there’s always something that can go wrong.  

What if a festivalgoer trips on an uneven surface and gets hurt? Or someone spills a beer on the expensive sound system? What if a bad storm rolls through and devastates your venue days before the event? Or your main performer cancels at the last minute? 

If you have any employees working for you at the festival, you’re required by law to take out employers’ liability insurance. And if you’re hiring a private venue for your event, the owner may also require you to have public liability insurance.

With any event or festival, it’s wise to make sure you have the right cover to avoid potentially costly claims or large losses.  And it’s also a good idea to arrange insurance cover as soon as you can in case of cancellation.

What type of festivals require insurance? 

Festival insurance isn’t just for huge headline-grabbing multi-day music events like Glastonbury. You might need festival insurance for all kinds of events, including literary festivals, comedy festivals, antiques fairs, film festivals, arts and crafts fairs, beer festivals, concerts, food and wine festivals or community carnivals.

As a basic rule of thumb, if members of the public are attending, you’ll need public liability insurance to cover you in case anyone gets injured or their property is damaged as a result of negligence on the part of the festival organiser. Many venues available for hire will insist you have public liability insurance in place for the event to protect them from any liability. 

Whatever festival you have planned, large or small, if you’re hiring anyone to help you organise or run the event, you’re required by law to have employers’ liability insurance in case your employees get injured or fall ill because of the work they do.

If you’re enlisting the help of volunteers, you also have a duty of care to make sure they’re covered for any injuries sustained while working for you. You’ll need to check with your insurance providers as to whether volunteers will be covered.

Even with smaller festivals, you’ll need to invest a fair amount of money to get your event off the ground. You may need to hire a venue, rent expensive equipment, book caterers or performers, and spend money on promotion and marketing. Festival insurance may help to minimise your financial losses if something unforeseen happens and you have to cancel. However not all eventualities are covered, such as marketing costs or poor ticket sales, so check your policy documents carefully.

What does festival insurance include?

Festival insurance policies can be quite complex as they need to cover the organiser for a wide range of potential issues:

  • Public liability insurance
    Covers you if any festival goers get hurt or injured (or worse) while at the festival, as well as for third-party property damage.
  • Employers’ liability insurance 
    Covers you if any of your employees, or any volunteers helping you, get hurt while working at the festival.
  • Equipment insurance 
    Covers you for any theft or damage to equipment associated with the festival, including any equipment you may have hired. Just make sure that any contracts with suppliers and contractors are made and paid in your name. If you pay through an event organiser your money may not be covered.
  • Cancellation insurance 
    Covers you if the event is cancelled due to specific unforeseen circumstances, helping you to recoup costs you would have otherwise lost. You’ll need to check your policy document to see what’s included because certain circumstances won’t be covered, such as failure of suppliers. 
  • Severe weather insurance
    Covers you for cancellation of the festival in adverse weather conditions or because of a storm.  

What is not covered by festival insurance?

You should check your insurance policy carefully to look out for any exclusions. Some public liability insurance might not cover you for damage or injuries caused by vandalism or malicious acts. Or your equipment cover may exclude specific items such as fireworks or inflatables. 

Employers’ liability insurance won’t cover you for any third-party contractors you use for the festival, such as security or catering services. They should have their own insurance in place, as should any performers or entertainers

Another thing to consider if you’re organising a ticketed event is professional indemnity insurance. This could help to protect you if festivalgoers claim the services provided haven’t met expectations in line with what was advertised.

How much will festival insurance cost?

The cost of festival insurance can vary a lot and will depend on the cover you need, and the size and complexity of the festival. 

For example, if the festival will go on for several days or is taking place outside the UK, the insurance cost will be higher. And if there are potentially hazardous activities – such as climbing or water sports – you could expect to pay more.

The premium for public liability insurance will depend on how many festivalgoers you’re expecting. Likewise, the premium for employee liability insurance will depend on how many employees you have, and the event equipment premium will depend on the total value of the equipment.

Frequently asked questions

Will festival insurance cover me for cancellations due to COVID-19?

You should carefully read the terms of any festival insurance policy to see what will be covered by your cancellation insurance and under what conditions. Normally, only cancellations that are unavoidable and out of your control will be covered, and there might be exclusions for cancellations related to COVID-19.

Organisers running events before 22 September 2022 may be able to take advantage of the government’s Live Events Reinsurance Scheme. Under the scheme, insurance providers can include cover for cancellations and postponements related to coronavirus, with the peace of mind that any pay-outs will be covered by the UK Government.

Does festival insurance cover postponement?

If you include cancellation cover with your festival insurance, it will typically also include event postponement, under the same conditions. Read the terms of any policy carefully and if you’re unsure, speak to your provider.

Do I need insurance for mobile catering and other vendors coming to my festival?

If you’re inviting food vans or other private vendors to come and work at a festival you’re organising, make sure they have the right public liability  insurance in place. Ask for a copy of their insurance certificate and forward it to your festival insurance provider so they can advise you if it’s adequate.

Can I insure my festival for lack of ticket sales?

Most festival insurance policies won’t cover cancellation if you choose not to go ahead with the event because of lack of interest or ticket sales. Some policies might cover reduced attendance because of external factors, such as transport problems, but watch out for any exclusions, and if in doubt speak to your provider.

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