Special Event and Travel Cancellation Risks
By Joel Block
Weddings, family events, children's summer camps, and commercial events and conventions might be cancelled due to unforeseen occurrences.
The beginning of the new millennium will be remembered as one of the worst times for event organizers world-wide. A sequence of disastrous events caused hundreds of thousands tourists to cancel their holidays. Weddings, family events, children's summer camps, and thousands of commercial events and conventions were cancelled. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, terror attacks caused not only direct vast damages but also collateral damage to millions of individuals and businesses.
The resulting financial damage is huge. Empty hotels, lost deposits, travel agencies with no income, airliners that fly almost empty, lost income to wholesalers, organizers and many individuals – and the list goes on. The estimated losses are stated in billions of dollars (according to the publications of the numerous insurance companies).
This scenario is familiar to the insurance industry: those companies who write Travel Insurance that includes a Cancellation Fees Clause; those who write Special Events with Cancellation Fees Clauses; and those insurance companies who write Political Coverage (many of which are state-owned organizations).
Although this scenario is well-known, the actual loss sustained by the insurance industry is by far lower than the actual loss sustained by the tourism industry, the canceling individuals and many others. The reason is Awareness.
In the past century the world witnessed many events, which should have caused people to understand the need to protect their investments. Although rates in the past decades have been quite reasonable, most prospective customers did not purchase any kind of protection. The saying, "It won't happen to me," led millions of travelers all around the world to refrain from purchasing travel insurance (or to ensure that their cover includes a Cancellation Clause), which resulted in somewhat higher premium rates, as the spread of risk was smaller than the potential. Most of those organizing events – private or commercial – ignored history, and smiled when nothing happened and the event was over. For those who saw the risk materialize, no smile could help.
The insurance market can only offer the products. It cannot purchase them instead of the at-risk customers. However, it is important to elevate the level of awareness in the general public, to ensure better protection to the public.
The big numbers look a bit remote from the individual whose story is the wedding reception of his son or daughter, and whose relatively small deposits for the reception hall and the caterers are now lost. An additional average expense of $100 could now save this money, and ensure his ability to celebrate the occasion at a later date.
The small stories are those that should alert you, the reader – personally or as an insurance broker or agent – to ensure that next time, you will not be caught without protection.
(Joel Block is a Customer Service Officer at Sinclair Insurance Company)
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