CoverMarque: “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”

As specialist insurance advisors and hosts of the Showman’s Show Marquee Suppliers’ Pavilion, CoverMarque has been quick to adapt and work closely with clients to assist them through the pandemic. Here, managing director, Nick Drew shares with us a blog that delivers great insight into the effects Covid-19 has had on the event industry, and in particular temporary structure companies and shares his hopes for a brighter 2021.

“Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”

This is an unofficial slogan of the US Marines, popularised by Clint Eastwood (Heartbreak Ridge, 1986), and it’s exactly what many businesses have been forced to do this year.

Many of our Temporary Structure clients have been adapting throughout the year, and we’ve been amending their policy Business Descriptions to accommodate their diversification. Some have also needed to extend their motor fleet insurances so that they can do delivery work.  Structures are being used in ways never imagined: Covid Testing centres, socially distanced canteens, temporary classroom space, shelters for pub gardens and most recently there has been a significant demand for temporary glamping sites.   

The timing of the pandemic could not have been worse, and there is no doubt the events industry has suffered the hardest of blows this year. However, the industry is full of hard workers, entrepreneurs, and resolute optimists who are used to delivering under pressure and finding a way to succeed.

Furthermore through “lockdown” and subsequent restrictions, most of us have greatly missed being able to meet with friends and families, and I sense there is an innate human desire to meet up and have fun.  For these reasons I remain positive for 2021 and believe that the industry will bounce back.

I have also been made aware of two projects which could potentially help the industry in 2021, and I thought these might be of interest:

  1. Lamp Testing for Covid-19 could be a real game changer in the fight against Coronavirus, and particularly for events.  In short, it is believed that typically the virus has an incubation period of around 4-5 days. The ICGene Lamp test is sensitive enough that it can detect viral load just 24 hours after infection, and the test can be conducted on site with results in 45 minutes. Theoretically, this gives a window of around 72 hours where someone testing negative is unlikely to be contagious.

Visitors could be tested on arrival at an event, and only those testing negative allowed in. The event becomes a Covid-19 low risk zone.For a more detailed explanation click  

  1. In mid-August The Treasury requested evidence concerning how the inevitable lack of Covid-19 related Event Cancellation Insurance Cover will impact the UK events industry in 2021.  Hopefully, this means that the Government are now considering a long overdue grant for the industry. 

Historically very few small to medium sized events have arranged cancellation Insurance. However next year, with event organisers nervous about the possibility of ongoing and further Coronavirus measures, if the cancellation cover were to be available at affordable premiums then I expect the majority would wish to arrange it.

Without Government intervention I do not believe any insurers will be offering the cover – if any do then the premiums will understandably be extremely high.The fear is that without the cover event organisers will be reluctant to pay suppliers non-refundable deposits, and this will create major cash flow issues for suppliers. Furthermore, if events are cancelled in 2021 without substantial non-refundable deposits having been paid, many suppliers won’t survive.

We therefore have proposed to The Treasury a solution whereby the Government should underwrite event cancellation insurance claims and thereby encourage insurers to offer it again. In case you are interested we have posted a copy of the letter we submitted on our website  

On the subject of non-refundable deposits, it is worth mentioning that we have had many requests from clients wanting to know where they stood, especially following the CMA guidance issued in April suggesting that suppliers should refund deposits. In many cases I don’t believe that this guidance applied to Temporary Structure or other similar suppliers. There is also a website blog covering this and the issue of “Frustrated Contracts”:

I do believe that another positive that we can all take from the pandemic is that there’s been a real sense of ‘we’re in this together’, with this mentality often showing itself in relation to deposits.   Most of our temporary structure hirers have reported that they have been able to amicably postpone the majority of bookings. i.e. the suppliers have tried to be understanding, flexible and reasonable, and in the main their customers have responded equally. 

We too wanted to help our clients wherever possible, and we felt there was an opportunity to financially help policyholders who had arranged liability insurance since last Summer.  Their premium had been calculated based on predicted turnover and wages estimates for the 2020 season, which were of course turning out to be far too high.

We identified the clients where this was likely and wrote to them asking for their revised figures.  In almost all cases we were delighted to be able to offer a sizable refund on last year’s premium.  If you don’t place your insurance with us and you didn’t get offered a rebate, then it might be worth asking for one, as I am aware some other insurers were also willing to offer this.

Just like many of our clients we have also adapted and we shall also overcome.  Approximately 80% of our clients are in event industry, and most of these are temporary structure hirers.   It’s an industry I absolutely love – which is lucky considering that I’ve been in it for 30 years – 7 years erecting marquees and 23 insuring them.  However this year having such a high concentration of clients in the one industry has, for once, had a downside! 

Although we intend on always remaining predominantly a specialist broker, we decided that in light of the pandemic we too needed to diversify more.  So we sent an email to all of our existing clients and asked them to recommend us to any of their suppliers and customers. The situation has also inspired us to finally launch a facebook page, become more active on Linkedin and to post more blogs on our website.    

Despite the huge financial impact Coronavirus has had on our business, there are also some real positives which have arisen:

  • Lockdown forced us to work differently, and as a result we have made efficiency improvements which we otherwise wouldn’t have considered
  • We’ve taken the opportunity to demonstrate to our clients that we are a source of advice on all sorts of matters – not just Insurance
  • We’ve been able to provide many clients with some financial assistance with premium rebates
  • We have gained some new clients – temporary structures hirers and some from other industries as we have tried to diversify.  

 Finally I wanted to bring to your attention two petitions aimed at helping the industry:

I have confidence that 2021 is going to be a great year for the events industry, and I am looking forward to welcoming you all into the Marquee Suppliers Pavilion at the Showman’s Show 2021.

Nick Drew

CoverMarque Ltd