November 15, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The Victorian Government yesterday announced a 12-month $230 million scheme to underwrite insurance covering the cancellation of events due to state or federally imposed restrictions that prevent an event from running or force it to run at reduced capacity.

Delivered by the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority, the scheme will cover business events, festivals, community and sporting events held in Victoria valued between $20,000 and $10 million. The insurance will be available for purchase in December and will be based on a percentage value – yet to be specified – of the declared value of the event.

The declared value will be based either on the revenue organisers expect to generate from the event or the cost of running the event.

Insurance must be purchased at least two weeks before the first day of the event and there cannot be restrictions in place that would prevent the event from running at the time of purchase.

Grass roots advocacy group Save Victorian Events, which has been campaigning for COVID-19 cancellation insurance since August 2020 welcomed the announcement last night.

“Not being able to insure against the risks of cancellation due to COVID has been a key thing holding many people back from organising events – as a last minute cancellation of an event can be financially devastating,” the group said in a statement.

“We know we will be living with the risks of COVID for years to come and that commercial insurers are very unlikely to cover COVID risks for the foreseeable future.  So government-backed COVID cancel insurance will be the only insurance available for the foreseeable future.”

The group says the details of the insurance, including premiums and other details – set to be released in December – will be important.

“We are a national industry and most of us work right across Australia, so hopefully this will cause other states to also put in place similar schemes for events in their states.  Or, better still, for the federal government to coordinate a national scheme for the long term – as it has done with reinsuring terrorism risks through the $12 billion Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation.”

The group notes in their statement that the reinsurance pool corporation having its remit extended to cover the risks of climate change in northern Australia could bode well for the corporation to also be used to support cancellation risk for the events industry.

“Today is a good step forward, but a lot more needs to be done to help the event industry get back up and running again.

“We are all very concerned that the existing general business support and disaster payments are ceasing while a lot of events and event work still won’t be happening for many months yet.

“We face a long and challenging road ahead as an industry.

“But with reopening roadmap for Victoria and events starting again we can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel.”