This article will be published in the upcoming International Association of Exhibitions and Events public events newsletter. Allison Steeves will be presenting at their conference in Orlando on Dec 6th.
Public show producers all share the same issues when it comes to protecting your business no mater what type of show you produce. You all have contracts with venues, exhibitors and subcontractors. The purpose of those contracts is to limit and distribute liability amongst the parties involved. A large part of these contracts fall into the area of insurance coverage. It is essential that you utilize these contracts to limit your liability and fulfill your obligations to others.
When you rent space at a venue you are contractually obligated to provide Liability insurance coverage for bodily injury and property damage which may occur within the rented space. This is sometimes called public liability and the general purpose is to protect the public coming to the venue to attend your show. Before you sign the contract with the venue you need to understand what you are signing. What are you responsible for and what is the venue responsible for? As an example, who is responsible for the parking lot, snow & ice control, sidewalks, common areas and entrance, loading dock areas, bathrooms? Understanding what you are responsible and liable for ahead of time can allow you to put in place good loss control measures.
It is also extremely important to know what contract expectations the venue is placing on you with regard to use of subcontractors and your exhibitors. Does the venue want to be listed as an additional insured and held harmless? Do they want insurance certificates obtained & delivered? These conditions vary greatly by the venue. Understanding your obligations and transferring this into your exhibitor and subcontractor contracts is necessary not only to fulfill your venue contract but to protect your business and limit your liability as well. The insurance requirements are essential to know ahead of time so you can review the requirements with your insurance agent and then budget accordingly. Most venues want you to carry at least $1,000,000 liability per occurrence per event while other venues may ask for up to $10,000,000. The “additional insured” language usually has its own paragraph as the venue and its owners and managers all require to be listed on your insurance. This paragraph should be provided to your insurance agent so that your venue certificate can be done correctly the first time.
Once you know what the venue requires and what you are responsible for you then need to make sure your exhibitor and subcontractor contracts are in sync with those requirements. It is essential for the show producer to utilize a good exhibitor contract. You want to be certain that they are responsible for their own property and for injuries including their employees & volunteers. They need to have general liability insurance to protect for injury or damage they could cause to attendees or other exhibitors. What insurance limit is the venue requiring you have your exhibitors carry? You need to be certain they comply.
One common item is that the exhibitors need to list your company and the venue as an additional insured and hold them harmless. Part of a good quality show producer-to-exhibitor contract is limiting your liability and having them accept their liability exposure while at your show and on the venue premises. These same contract and insurance practices should be followed for subcontractors such as decorators, light & sound people, table & chair rental companies, as well as hired acts, stunts, exhibitions, rides, performers and models.
As the show producer it is your responsibility to follow thru with contract and insurance requirements to protect your business and the venue. You should retain your signed exhibitor/subcontractor contracts and their insurance certificate for at least two years as these are your most important piece of defense against an exhibitor/contractor claim.
Your best way to limit your liability is with contracts. Read contracts before you sign them and negotiate areas that are of concern. Utilize an attorney and your insurance agent to form a good exhibitor contract and update it annually. Require signed contracts and insurance from your exhibitors and your subcontractors. Your diligence with contracts and insurance will be well worth it should a claim ever arise.