Event Managers: With Premiums at Historic Lows, Lock In Insurance Rates Now, says Buttine.
Managing risk is a big part of every event manager’s job. No one likes to pay insurance premiums but, when there’s a problem, you want to know your insurer will pay the claim.
EventsInAmerica.com (EIA) met with Jack Buttine at the IAEE Expo! Expo! in Anaheim. Buttine is Managing Director of John Buttine Inc. Insurance of New York, NY. He provided some helpful insights and advice for event owners, managers and planners.
EIA: Tell us about your company and what you do?
Buttine: We’re a trade show insurance company. We insure events of all types, whether they’re public events, nonprofit events, indoor, outdoor – events of all kinds.
Is there a particular size or clientele or sweet spot you think your services are best geared for?
No, you have to be a certain size of course. If you’re in a venue that requires insurance, you’re big enough.
There are a number of companies that provide insurance services. What’s your unique differentiator?
It’s easy to say we provide extraordinary service at competitive prices. I think the way to distinguish ourselves is we’ve had some clients for over 20 years. That’s something that sets us apart. I like to say all insurance companies will pay claims. We’ve settled claims for clients who, once we’ve helped to settle their claim, they’re clients for life because of the way their situation was handled.
Talk more about that. What’s unique about that? Insurance is costly, they might shop around, why do they stay with you?
It’s all about service. Our key word is “trust.” There are not that many insurance claims. You have to trust that the insurer will actually pay your claim promptly and fairly. Our track record for doing that is big. Our track record for industry engagement is big. I’ve been the chairman of the New York chapter of IAEE, been on the national board for IAEE. We know the trade show business. If you’re a major buyer, we want to make sure our underwriters understand – before the loss – just how important our insurance is to your show. We’ve taken folks over to meet Lloyds’ underwriters for event cancellation insurance. As far as I know, nobody else does that. But after meeting you, the underwriters will understand how important that policy is and how important it is that the show goes on. In the event of a claim, that makes the whole process go a little bit easier.
What 1 or 2 trends do you see developing in the trade show and conference industry?
Most claims in a trade show business are not caused by show organizers. They’re caused by contractors and exhibitors. As an industry, we’re already good at getting evidence of insurance from our contractors. But we’re still working at requiring exhibitors to have insurance. Exhibitors can cause fires; exhibitors can cause folks to trip on the show floor. Now we’re completing the circle for risk management by the show organizer requiring exhibitors to have liability insurance. We want to save the show organizer’s insurance for the show organizer’s mistakes. Liability insurance policies are a little like tanks of gas. You can exhaust them. So if you exhaust your policy limit paying for someone else’s mistakes, and you, the show organizer, ultimately cause a claim, that’s not a good thing.
What’s the outlook for your company for 2017? Do you have any new services or products you’ll be offering?
As far as breakthrough products? No. We’d like to get better at delivering to new customers and new prospects – meeting more new friends in 2017. I’m always looking to deliver our same stable of three products to a broader audience. We provide Event Cancellation insurance, Organizers’ Liability insurance, and Exhibitors’ Liability insurance.
I think when we provide event cancellation insurance we probably do a better job because, as far as I know, we have the biggest market reach. Most insurance is underwritten at Lloyds. We’ve got several different groups at Lloyds that back us. So depending on the kind of show – for instance, certain underwriters will like medical shows, others will like public shows – our reach into that market, I think, is second to none.
What 1 or 2 tips can you offer an event planner or event organizer to ensure she has a successful event?
Insurance wise, to me that means this: How can the organizer arrange her affairs so if she has a claim, the claim is easy to settle and gets settled promptly? Organize your data, so, should you have an event cancellation claim, you know your attendance history and you have a show budget that’s up to date. Those two things will be the biggest factors in promptly settling event cancellation claims: Knowing your attendance history and having a good budget.
The second big tip is in terms of liability insurance. Show organizers have to make the venue an Additional Insured on the organizer’s policy. Show organizers want to be an Additional Insured on their contractors’ and exhibitors’ policies. The hot tip here is, unless the show organizer’s contract requires the exhibitors or contractors to indemnify the show organizer, the Additional Insured status will not work.
It’s a two-way deal. You need 1) to be named as an Additional Insured on someone’s policy and 2), you need a contract that requires the exhibitor and/or contractor to indemnify the organizer.
You’ve been here at Expo! Expo! on many occasions before?
Sure, I’ve been here 25 years.
What do you like most about attending IAEE Expo! Expo!?
Great folks. Every time we come here, we meet our current clients who are always good friends. We meet folks we hope to help in one way or another. Ultimately if they’re not clients, hopefully they become clients. It depends really on us…if we do a good job following up, hopefully folks we met this year will become clients next year. We enjoy the people, the interaction.
Is there anything we haven’t discussed that your think our audience should know about?
Right now, insurance pricing is at historic lows. If you’re thinking of buying event cancellation insurance, you should buy it 3-5 years in advance. If you’re a big enough show company, you pay in installments. The key there is you’ve locked in your cost for the next 5 years. We talked about liability insurance, we talked about exhibitor cancellation insurance. The big dollar amount, the big premium, is in event cancellation insurance. With premium rates at historic lows, if you could lock in those rates for the next 5 years, it would be a very good thing to do. It’s like the airlines. You think they buy fuel year to year? No, they lock in their fuel futures over time. It’s much the same thing with insurance. You’re locking in future costs.
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