Insurance cover is essential If you are planning to have
a Bonfire Night fireworks party or public event. Accidents can happen in
the best organised event and the consequences of being under-insured can
be tragic in both human and financial terms.
Private party. If your fireworks celebration is private
party in your own home then your general household insurance would normally
provide adequate cover, or can be upgraded to do so. Check the policy
and if in doubt consult your broker or insurance company. Remember though
that there will almost certainly be a 'duty of care' clause putting the
onus on you to take reasonable safety precautions.
Public Fireworks Display. It is when the event is open
to the public and / or is paid-for that insurance becomes more
complex. This is partly because risks increase as the event becomes bigger but also because there is a greater duty of care on the organiser (who may be regarded as an expert, in legal terms). There is also an increased expectation of compensation from an injured party.
Forward Planning. Small-scale, organised but informal
parties probably have the biggest problem with securing adequate cover
at an affordable price - but it needn't be the case. Adequate forward
planning is the key.
If you are involved with a regular, properly constituted community or
social organisation then you should already have an insurance policy in
place. This will cover your activities - summer outings, Christmas parties
etc - for the usual risks: public liability, personal accident and similar.
A reputable insurance company will usually include your fireworks party
in with this cover, but here is the key: don't wait till the last minute!!
Anticipate that fireworks might be one of your activities and make sure that it is included in your policy, an ideal time to review cover is at renewal time. Failing that, ask your broker or insurer in plenty of time to add the firework activity to your policy. Providing your fireworks party is properly organised and follows Health & Safety Executive guidelines there should not be a problem. It is easier for insurance companies to say 'no' when they are approached too late for them to assess the risk.
Liability. On a larger event the insurance
question becomes more complex. If there is any sort of claim made,
then insurance companies, or the courts, will seek to apportion responsibility,
and therefore liability. You should consider all of the following:
Liability. This is the main area of risk, and your primary
responsibility as an organiser.
If you are contracting in a display company they should have their
own public liability policy in force, but take special note; this
covers THEIR liability, NOT yours.
If you are buying the fireworks and firing them yourself then you must have specific
cover for this.
Funfair rides or
amusements. Likewise check the policy of all fairground
rides. Members of the Showman's Guild will always have public liability
insurance in place. Be especially cautious of small-time operators
of bouncy castles and similar.
Similarly, contract caterers should have their own policy. Check
it. If you are providing catering with your own staff / volunteers
then the liability will be yours. If you can, use a member of a catering
trade organisation such as MOCA.
costs need not be prohibitive with proper forward planning
Cost. Planning ahead also takes care of one of the
other insurance problems - that of cost. Insurance cover is not cheap
but it can be prohibitive if it is not costed in from the first stage
of planning. When it is included as an afterthought, the cost is likely
to kill an event. If it is included from the outset as an expense -
along with fireworks, advertising etc - an event can still be financially
successful; and a successful event is a safe and enjoyable way to enjoy
Becky Hadley, of AA Insurance Services, said: "Be especially careful
if you are going out to displays or friends' bonfire parties. Most people
consider the fire risks when going to or hosting parties, but with the
dark nights drawing in and the distractions of noise, Bonfire Night can
be a great one for burglars.
"Fireworks can easily disguise the noise of windows being broken
or of doors being wrenched, and the sound of barking dogs, for example,
is more likely to be overlooked. Make sure your home is properly secured
when you go out."