As the coronavirus pandemic spreads through the U.S. and “social distancing” becomes the preferred way to slow its progress, the list of cancelled events and conferences is only expanding by the day.

Trade shows and conferences are being cancelled or shifted to webinar formats. Band tours are being postponed – perhaps permanently. The 34th South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas will be in 2021, not 2020. And then there are the NBA and MLB season suspensions. The NCAA tournament has been cancelled and even Broadway is closing down.

The costs to organizers are likely to be astronomical, a situation that makes a good case for Non-Appearance and Cancellation insurance. This tends to be an underutilized coverage protecting trade shows and conferences, festivals and entertainment and sports events – but perhaps less so in the future.

Organizers that were able to secure their coverage well in advance might, in some ways, consider the coronavirus as a coverage trigger and might able to recoup expenses and lost revenue, so long as they got the policy before Jan. 23, 2020. Policies bought since then have a specific exclusion for COVID-19, or the coronavirus. If you are able to purchase a policy now and a new virus or communicable disease is discovered in the future, which similarly disrupted society and caused your event to be cancelled, you would be covered. (But the COVID-19 exclusion will stay in place indefinitely.)

Insurers began applying the specific coronavirus exclusion when events outside of China (initially Hong Kong and other countries within Asia) started to be cancelled for preventative measures.

Cancellation/non-appearance policies serve as a safety net against costs when event headliners can’t appear due to illness, accident, death or any cause of delay or postponement. They also protect events like carnivals, conferences and trade shows that are at risk of cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances which would seriously impact attendance, revenue or profit. Also covered are: extra costs incurred by postponed tours, concerts or theatrical productions. What’s not covered is “fear of…” something, such as travelling or spreading or catching a communicable disease.

These policies are expensive – currently priced at about .20% of the event budget. And quotes can’t be provided until a set schedule with signed contracts and guarantees are in place. So organizers and promoters and others who didn’t get their policies in place sooner can’t fault themselves (and neither should others). They might not have had all the pieces in place before the coronavirus really broke through.

Until the spread of the coronavirus is contained, any organization involved in endeavors geared to attracting audiences of any size should continue to monitor the situation closely. Depend on the civil authorities in your region to keep you apprised of necessary closures to keep people safe. Your broker can also be counted on for guidance and risk resources.

HUB International’s team of Entertainment Insurance experts are ready to guide you on all the risk considerations that should be factored into planning for any type of show or event. Get the latest information, guidance and resources on Coronavirus (COVID-19) to help you protect what matters most on our Coronavirus Resource Center.