Published on: 17 November 2021 by Michael Lamb
On November 5th 2021 Travis Scott’s AstroWorld Festival was due to commence in Houston Texas. The first gate breach of the day occurred shortly after 9am, when attendees breached the main entrance. Over the course of the day 8 more breaches occurred creating a crowd surge that led to at least 9 deaths.
Previous editions of the AstroWorld Festival were, according to police, out of control and law enforcement was worried about a similar situation occurring at this year’s show. Some media reports are even going so far as to say that officials even requested that Travis Scott consider postponing the event due to the existing crowd situation.
The AstroWorld nightmare marks one of the deadliest concert incidents since 18 people were killed at the 2010 edition of Berlin’s Love Parade. No one should die because they wanted to see music. As with Woodstock 99, the Astroworld Festival was the victim of poor organization – the need to capitalize on production revenue and maximize the productivity of the event created a situation that was far beyond the control of organizers and led directly to the loss of human life.
At this time full reports are still coming in, so we can only speculate on what (exactly) happened in Houston Texas that evening, but had insurance been in place (and the advice of the contingency insurance underwriter followed), this situation could have been avoided entirely.
Many of the logistical and safety issues which come with organizing a concert or festival can be overcome through the use of a comprehensive event insurance policy.
Event insurance companies have extensive experience in helping to protect shows. If it has happened, they have seen it. As such, most Event Insurance (also known as Contingency Insurance) products are extremely flexible, yet comprehensive. They exist to cover all the risks of the event organizer, from their liability exposure to the equipment they need to put on the production, and even the safety of the fans and participants.
Some of the coverage benefits under an event insurance policy include:
There are a number of additional coverage benefits that producers and organizers may elect to include in their event insurance policy, but for the purposes of this article, the most important coverage benefit to AstroFest would have been Cancellation Insurance.
Cancellation insurance is a critical component of all event insurance policies; as a producer or event organizer you are not going to be losing out on your expenses and/or profits if the event is unable to proceed. Under event cancellation coverage, organizers are covered (upon presentation of receipts) following the cancellation, interruption, or postponement of the event for causes which are beyond their control.
Event Cancellation Insurance includes coverage for:
While there are normally a large number of exclusions in relation to event cancellation, these exclusions usually apply in relation to alternative coverage options. For example, Cancellation due to inclement weather would not normally be covered unless the organizer had also purchased the additional “Inclement Weather coverage benefit.”
Under an Event Insurance policy with Cancellation Coverage, when organizers at AstroFest were informed about the crowd control and safety issues, an immediate move should have been made to postpone or halt the festival in order to protect attendees. If such an insurance policy were in force, there would have been no concerns about lost revenue or costs, as these financial problems would have been handled by the insurance company at a later date.
The second part of the AstroFest situation, after cancellation cover, is in relation to public liability insurance protection. Under Event Insurance products, public liability benefits will normally protect organizers against:
In most cases in order for Public Liability to fully cover an event the organizers technical and administrative management must have taken all reasonable steps needed to prevent injury or bodily damage. Unfortunately, in the case of AstroFest, this doesn’t appear to have happened.
According to media, law enforcement had expressed their concerns over the crowd situation – predicting an unmanageable situation. Further to this, after the first facility breach at 9am in the morning, the organizers should have put a halt on the event to assess their safety situation.
Event Public Liability insurance is designed to protect organizers from the costs of their legal consequences, and indemnify them for their liability at law towards their attendees following a bodily injury or property damage situation. However, this only occurs if there are no applicable exclusions on the policy. In this case, the plaintiffs in the legal actions against Travis Scott and the Atroworld Festival, as well as the insurance company holding the public liability coverage for the concert, could make a strong case that all reasonable steps to safeguard the event were not taken.
It is reasonably likely that the Astroworld Festival held some form of event insurance. However, it is debatable as to whether the organizers produced the event with the aim of fully safeguarding it.
If you are considering organizing a major event you should strongly consider obtaining comprehensive insurance advice on how to best mitigate your risks and protect your audience. As stated previously, event insurance companies have the most experience in helping you organize a successful event, while protecting your attendees and audience.
In Hong Kong and Asia, CCW Global works with the leading Event and Contingency Insurance companies to help you hold a successful event. Our expert Hong Kong insurance brokers are able to offer you free, no-risk, no-obligation consultations about the contingency insurance solutions that best meet the specific requirements of your next event.
For more information, or to arrange a consultation with an expert event insurance advisor please Contact Us Today.
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