August 9, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

In a move that could prove the worth of a similar initiative in Australia, the UK Government launched a national reinsurance scheme for the events industry last week to provide COVID-19 cancellation insurance, covering a major gap in the insurance market for the sector during the pandemic.

The Live Events Reinsurance Scheme is worth over £750 million. The UK events industry is worth more than £70 billion annually and supports over 700,000 jobs.

The scheme seems the Government partnering with insurance marketplace Lloyd’s and will allow event organisers to purchase cancellation insurance alongside their normal commercial policies. The scheme will cover all events open to the public – so incentive events will likely remain exposed – for cancellation if Government COVID-19 restrictions prevent an event from legally taking place.

The insurance initiative will run from next month until the end of September 2022 and there will be no cap on the costs being claimed by event organisers.

“The events sector supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, and I know organisers are raring to go now that restrictions have been lifted,” said the UK Parliament’s chief finance minister, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, as part of the official announcement.

“But the lack of the right kind of insurance is proving a problem, so as the economy reopens I want to do everything I can to help events providers and small businesses plan with confidence right through to next year.

“We have some of the best events in the world here in the UK – from world-famous festivals to your local fair. With this new insurance scheme, everything from live music in Margate to business events in Birmingham can go ahead with confidence, providing a boost to the economy and protecting livelihoods.”

“Our events industries are not just vital for the economy and jobs; they put Britain on the map and, thanks to this extra support, will get people back to the experiences that make life worth living,” said the UK’s Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden.

The move comes at an interesting time, given the Government lifted almost all COVID-19 restrictions that have been preventing events from taking place on July 19.

The lifting of restrictions was justified by high levels of vaccination in the UK – 74.5 percent of adults are now fully vaccinated with 88.9 percent partially vaccinated – although with case numbers rising in the immediate lead-up to “freedom day” on July 19, there were significant concerns about how the move would impact case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths.

The outcome to date appears to be mixed – cases have come down from a peak of over 60,000 cases on July 15, with the seven day rolling average now back down under 30,000 daily cases from a high of almost 48,000. However there have also been 601 deaths from COVID-19 in the last week and 5,328 hospitalisations – which is down about 16 percent on the previous seven day period.